EGYPTAIR is from June 1 this year set to resume flights to and from Zimbabwe, nine years after abandoning the route because of the then worsening political and economic climate.
The airline will initially operate four times weekly return flights, a move which should result in increased business between Cairo and Harare, and increase scope for cultural tourism and beach holidays for locals from both African countries.
A spokesman for the Egyptian national aviation carrier confirmed that flights will leave Cairo each Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, via Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, returning from Harare on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays on the same route.
Boeing 737-900ERs will be used on the 8 hour 15 minute flight to the Egyptian capital. The return journey is scheduled to take 10 hours 20 minutes.
Cairo is the main aviation hub for North Africa, the Middle East and much of the eastern Mediterranean. EgyptAir serves 17 African destinations and 20 in Europe, including London. The EgyptAir flight to Heathrow from Harare will take 21 hours 50 minutes and the return trip 16 hours 50 minutes, both including a Cairo stopover.
An EgyptAir air-line ticket with a month’s validity to London from Harare in June/July was shown on Skyscanner.Com this week as costing US$988.
While Egypt is still experiencing violent repercussions from the Arab Spring Revolution and a consequent serious decline in tourism arrivals, it is home to some of the world’s most popular travel destinations, including the Pyramids at Cairo; Luxor, Karnack and the Valley of the Kings, from which most of the Nile cruises operate and the all-year-round luxury beach resorts of the Sinai Peninsula, such as Sharm-el-Sheikh with unrivalled snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.
Glorious beaches Political upheavals in Cairo, the capital and major cities in African Egypt have tended to be ignored in the Sinai Peninsula which, with its endless glorious beaches and unbeatable diving areas, is a favourite with European package deal all-inclusive tourists. The Sinai, with its spectacular desert and Biblical sites and sights, is in Asia and was occupied by Israel for many years after the Six-Day War.
Package deals and Nile cruises put together by EgyptAir were popular with Zimbabwean families, couples and honeymooners before the North African airline dropped Harare as a destination.
Travel professionals calculate that a week to 10-day all inclusive holiday deal, including flights to and from Harare, to places like Sharm-el-Sheikh or Hurghada on the Red Sea, could now be put together for a maximum of US$1 000 per person sharing.
From Sharm and other Egyptian Riviera beach resorts, day trips can be booked to such destinations as Eilat in southern Israel (and, indeed, much of the Holy Land) and to Aqabar in Jordan and on to the once lost city of Petra and the Dead Sea.
Skyscanner.Com quotes a return ticket from Harare to Cairo as costing US$611 by EgyptAir, which abandoned flights to Zimbabwe following the land invasions about the same time as did Qantas of Australia, Air France and Lufthansa (Germany) and a subsequent massive reduction in traveller de,ands for airline bookings here.