Victoria Falls, June 30 (The Source) – Kenya Airways abandoned plans to service the Victoria Falls route, opting to land in Livingstone, Zambia, after the Zimbabwe government insisted that the east African airline pays royalties to Air Zimbabwe, an official has said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the move had cost Zimbabwe in potential tourist arrivals into Victoria Falls, the country’s top attraction.
Kenya Airways flies from Nairobi into Livingstone seven times a week, starting in 2013, and the airline has this year extended the route to Cape Town. The airline also flies seven times between Nairobi and Harare.
“Kenyan Airways now flies into Livingstone because we refused to allow them into Victoria Falls. This was because we wanted them to pay royalties to Air Zimbabwe, which they refused to accept,” Kaseke said.
“They wanted to fly into Victoria Falls seven times a week and had to move to Livingstone which was their plan B after failing to land here and now we have multitudes of tourists who could have come directly to Zimbabwe going to Zambia.”
Kaseke said the ZTA has, however, courted Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines, who are likely to fly into Victoria Falls within a year. He said the two airlines had shown interest in landing at the renovated $150 million Victoria Falls International Airport, set to be commissioned soon.
The new look airport has the capacity to handle more than one million passengers annually and accommodate wide body aircraft such as Airbus A340, Boeing 777 and Boeing 747.
“The airport is ready and we have a Turkish airline that has shown interest and Ethiopian Airways which is already doing the Harare route and wants to add Victoria Falls,” said Kaseke.
Kaseke said efforts to attract airlines from Asia remained unsuccessful and dismissed reports that Qatar Airlines would soon be flying into Zimbabwe.
“We haven’t spoken to Qatar, contrary to claims in the media. No one from Asia has shown interest, contrary to what has been said that there are Asian airlines that are coming. The truth is they have said no to our engagements. Not even China,” Kaseke said.
“Chinese airlines are owned by government but are run commercially and government has no influence over them. We have been hitting our heads against the wall to bring airlines from Asia but they said no. The only airlines we should expect within a year are Turkish and Ethiopian airlines,” he added.