ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) CEO Karikoga Kaseke says Zimbabwe will by year-end have signed an agreement with South African Airways (SAA) to make it an official airline for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly next year.
Report by Staff Writer
Zimbabwe co-hosts the biggest biennial global tourism event with Zambia next year and is required to have an official airline which will fly directly into the country from major world cities as well as service key domestic routes for the convenience of the 2 000-plus delegates that are expected to register.
Kaseke told businessdigest this week the two parties were in no hurry to conclude the agreement as there was ample time, in terms of UNWTO regulations, before the event begin.
“That one is not yet concluded, the event is there in August and we can conclude three months before the UNWTO, but I can assure you we will conclude this year,” he said.
“The rules are that we need to conclude at least three months before the event. Right now it’s too early. No one has even bought a ticket for the event,” he said.
Earlier in August, Kaseke announced Zimbabwe had approached SAA to be the official carrier during the UNWTO general assembly as the state-owned airline, Air Zimbabwe, remains grounded due to viability challenges.
In September, Transport minister Nicholas Goche said Air Zimbabwe would resume regional flights by end of October as it seeks to regain lost ground.
The national carrier is currently reeling under an accumulating debt now in excess of US$150 million.
Goche said the state-owned airline plans to resume the Harare-Johannesburg route, with two flights per week before doubling frequency.
Kaseke said resumption of operations at Air Zim would not interfere with government’s decision to partner SAA for the UNWTO and an official carrier would be announced by January 2013.
“Even if Air Zimbabwe was flying, what we are looking at is access to destinations. We look at an airline with the most connection from all destinations.”
“SAA is well connected because it flies to far many more destinations than any other airline. It is not about Air Zimbabwe’s woes that we are talking about here. Even if Air Zimbabwe was not having any problems, I think the first reasonable decision would be to say South African Airways is the preferred airline,” Kaseke said.
SAA is a member of the Star Alliance, the world’s largest global airlines club headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany.