FLYSAFAIR, a South Africa-based airline, yesterday launched a service between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg, becoming the ninth international airline to fly into the country’s prime resort city.
A 165-seater FA755 aircraft landed just after 4pm at the Victoria Falls International Airport with 89 passengers on board. It was supposed to depart with 76 passengers.
The value-based airline will operate scheduled flights three days a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, alternating with another FlySafair service between Johannesburg and Livingstone across the Zambezi River on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
In South Africa, FlySafair commands 67 percent of the domestic market share and has expanded its fleet to include the Boeing 747 aircraft.
The maiden flight into Victoria Falls followed the launch of a Johannesburg –Harare-Livingstone service on Monday.
Various tourism stakeholders including tour operators, hoteliers, tourism executives, Government, and local authority representatives, attended the launch ceremony at the Victoria Falls International Airport.
The aircraft was welcomed by a canon water salute amid traditional music provided by Ilembe Shining Spears, after which the guest of honour, Victoria Falls town clerk, Mr Ronnie Dube, cut the ribbon to officially unveil the new service.
Mr Dube was assisted by the airline’s executive manager for flight operations Captain Hans Joachim Zeuner, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe Matabeleland North chair Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa-Hughes, and Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) management.
FlySafair is the official sponsor of South Africa’s rugby national team, the Springboks. Tourism executives described the coming in of the airline as a game-changer for local tourism. They said Victoria Falls will be put on the world map if the airline brings the Springboks to Victoria Falls.
Addressing guests, Mr Dube said the interest being shown by airlines on destination Victoria Falls was a result of infrastructure development implemented by the Government, which upgraded the airport to accommodate more and wide-bodied aircraft.
“The coming on board of FlySafair answers to the Victoria Falls vision to be a smart, competitive green city sustaining a well-developed community and offering a safe tourist and investment destination of choice by 2030, which is consistent with the central Government’s Vision 2030,” he said.
“This new venture will also aid in boosting investment and job creation opportunities in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa. This is a game-changer and we applaud you for bringing this major development to our doorstep and wish you a prosperous exploit.”
Mr Dube said the door remains open for more airlines to fly into Victoria Falls and commended Government, the ACZ, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, tour operators and other partners for marketing the destination.
“In line with President Mnangagwa’s mantra ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’, I would like to say Victoria Falls is open for business.
“The economy of Victoria Falls thrives on tourism and initiatives that bring more tourists to the city are warmly welcome,” he said.
Acting Victoria Falls Airport manager Mr Vupenyu Shava said FlySafair had made the right decision to ply the Victoria Falls route as the destination is central to the region.
Mr Shava said ACZ was committed to providing the best facilitation services and urged the airline to consider more frequencies. Mrs Murasiranwa-Hughes said the tourism industry was excited by the improvement in connectivity.
“Victoria Falls is a hub for tourism as it is located centrally in the region. Yes, you have started with us but look at how Victoria Falls operates and you would need to expand going into the region using the destination as a hub,” she said.
“This is a game-changer which is going to bring more tourists and as a tourism industry, we are prepared to welcome them leveraging on the Open Skies policy by Government and we urge those in accommodation and activities to up the game and match the opportunities brought by improvements in access to the destination.”
Other international airlines flying into Victoria Falls are Fastjet, Eurowings Discover, Ethiopian Airways, Kenyan Airways, MacAir, Airlink, South African Airways and CemAir.
FlySafair executive manager for flight operations Captain Zeuner said the airline was expanding into the region. He said the new route would bring significant business and tourism growth to both cities which are thriving economic hubs, attracting business professionals from all over the world.
“This enhanced connectivity would encourage more business partnerships, investments, and job opportunities, fuelling economic growth for both Johannesburg and Victoria Falls. By offering direct flights to Victoria Falls, FlySafair would make it even easier for travellers to experience the majestic beauty of Victoria Falls,” he said.
“Tourists visiting Johannesburg would have the opportunity to easily plan trips to Victoria Falls. The convenience of FlySafair’s direct flights would undoubtedly boost tourism in both cities, attracting more visitors, supporting local businesses, and elevating the overall travel experience, becoming a game-changer for business growth and tourism development in both cities.”
Positive Eye News