Zimbabwe hopes to have two more foreign airlines on its runways by year end, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) general manger David Chawota said.
Caaz is currently in negotiations with RwandAir and another airline from Tanzania with agreements and flights expected before end of year, Chawota said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a Routes Africa breakfast meeting held in the capital on Tuesday.
The new players will increase the number of foreign airlines flying into Zimbabwe to 16 from the current 14.
The 14 airlines are less than 50% of the 34 foreign airlines which flew into Zimbabwe at peak in 1997.
“At peak, we had 34 airlines in 1997 and our target according to ZimAsset and the Medium Term Plan is 40 by the end of the planning period,” Chawota said.
He said the country has capacity to handle different 40 airlines and new investments were being made to modernise facilities and at the same time increase capacity.
“Before we had that new terminal building at Harare (International Airport) for example, the domestic tower was the international and it handled the 34 airlines so we can, the capacity is there and it is about efficiencies,” he said, adding government is currently promoting the Victoria Falls International Airport as an international entry point as part of efforts to increase capacity.
In his official presentation, Chawota said the country was seeking to position Victoria Falls International Airport as a preferred regional hub.
“We have promoted and will continue investing in that regard,” he said.
Some delegates raised concern over Harare International Airport’s current handling capacity, saying it has insufficient parking space with the three aero bridges currently on the facility also inadequate.
However, Transport secretary Munesu Munodawafa said government was working on a number of infrastructure projects both in the short and long term which include building a new runway and capacitating ground services.
“Harare international airport’s initial design has seven aerobridges,” he said.
Chawota also said the government has a number of infrastructure projects with immediate focus on developing the remaining four aerodromes on the Harare International Airport.
“We are also looking at expansion of the domestic terminal to increase capacity,” Chawota said.
“We also have plans to develop further designs outside the seven aerobridges, a new runway and cargo village,” he said, adding the Ministry of Transport was currently in discussions with partners for the project.
In an update on government’s preparedness to host the Routes Africa conference scheduled for Victoria Falls in June, Chawota said a final assessment was concluded on May 2, with the secretariat giving Zimbabwe a green light.
Munodawafa said the event would be used to showcase Victoria Falls as a regional hub and to promote Zimbabwe as a tourist destination.
He said the event registered an attendance of 330 delegates last year in Uganda and Zimbabwe wants to hit a record 400 delegates.
Chawota said 29 airlines have confirmed their participation to date and they include South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, Turkish Airlines and Emirates.
He said some players from America and Bulgaria will also be part of the event.
Aircraft manufacturers like Embraer and airport like Birmingham, Copenhagen, Munich ad Denver have also confirmed participation.
So far, 68 organisations have registered for the event with two foreign players from Zambia and South Africa hosting dinners.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) executive director responsible for marketing, Tesa Chikaponya, said the event promotes business tourism in the country.
ZTA is organizing the event in partnership with Caaz.