Ethiopian Airlines makes its first flight to Bulawayo
Office of Nqobile Bhebhe Bulawayo
ETHIOPIAN Airlines made its maiden flight to Bulawayo yesterday landing at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, a key development in the aviation industry that will boost the tourism sector and facilitate international travel.
The airline arrived on time for a spectacular traditional water cannon salute.
The airline, which already flies to Zimbabwe via Harare and Victoria Falls, is expected to operate a four times weekly service from Addis Ababa to Bulawayo via Victoria Falls.
The arrival of more international airlines testifies to the positive impact of Zimbabwe’s open skies policy, which enhances the country’s attractiveness for potential investors.
When the Second Republic came into existence in 2017, only three airlines used the country’s airspace. Today, more than 18 airlines serve the country.
Speaking at the welcoming ceremony, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Engineer Theodius Chinyanga said that Ethiopian Airlines will help increase the country’s economic growth.
“We are aware of the crucial role that air transport plays in the economic development of our country.
“The arrival of Ethiopian Airlines at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport will undoubtedly stimulate and encourage breakthrough investment and business ventures in other downstream sectors of our economy for the benefit of the nation.”
He stressed the need to embrace and use the opportunity offered by Ethiopian Airlines to develop tourism, trade, attract foreign direct investment and create beneficial trade relations with the world.
Eng Chinyanga said his ministry will strive to increase connectivity, not only with the African continent but with the rest of the world, in line with the government’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), which is focused on achieving the vision of transforming Zimbabwe into an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030.
Before Ethiopian Airlines arrived at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, the only other international flight to and from the airport was to Johannesburg in South Africa, which is operated by Airlink.
“Therefore, with the arrival of this flight from Addis Ababa, we have now increased the connectivity between Bulawayo and the rest of the continent and the world at large,” said Eng Chinyanga.
The Commercial Director of the airline, Mr. Lemma Yadesga Gudeta, expressed confidence that the airline will facilitate easy international access by increasing connectivity.
“Our new flight to Bulawayo creates even stronger socio-economic ties between Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. It also plays an important role in international accessibility and stimulates the country’s tourism sector.
In a statement, the Managing Director of Ethiopian Airlines Group, Mr. Mesfin Tasew, said the Bulawayo route will improve international connectivity and facilitate trade in Africa and beyond.
“The start of flights to Bulawayo is crucial in connecting Southern Africa to the world with our 130 destinations across five continents. We are pleased to serve Bulawayo, the industrial hub of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, accelerating trade with our cargo and passenger services.
“Our flights to multiple cities in one country demonstrate our strong commitment to serving our customers and supporting our continent as the best pan-African carrier,” Mr. Tasew said.
He said the growing connectivity of Ethiopian Airlines supports the utilization of the huge potential of the continent’s tourism industry.
“The new flight to Bulawayo will add convenience to travellers, thereby activating business activities in the industrial heartland of Southern Africa.”
Recently, Ethiopian Airlines was the official carrier for international buyers and journalists attending this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, having entered into a partnership with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
Zimbabwe has seen increased interest from various airlines in recent years, with some including Emirates increasing the frequency of flights while others including German airline Eurowings Discover and RwandAir have entered the space country air.
The renewed interest in Zimbabwe as a destination is a mark of confidence in the local tourism industry and the aviation market in general by foreign airlines and the international community.
The authorities attributed the growing interest of foreign airlines in the country to the improvement of the aviation infrastructure.