THE country’s aviation regulator is seeking nearly $150 million to upgrade Kariba and Buffalo Range airports in a development seen as catalytic to tourism growth, an official has said.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive, David Chaota told The Source in an interview that the authority has lined up several projects to mordernise the airports.
The agency was allocated $3 million in the 2015 budget to rehabilitate the runaway at Harare International Airport.
Chaota said CAAZ would also fund an upgrade of the check-in system at the airport using internally generated funds, adding that this would be completed by the first quarter next year.
“There are other projects such as the airspace modernisation programme. We are soliciting for funding because we are looking at substantial amounts of funds… about $50 million,” he said.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to mobilise that kind of money within the period of three years…Buffalo Range on its own is a project that will probably (require) around $100 million.
“Buffalo Range is not very different from the Victoria Falls Airport, it is just that it is on a smaller scale.”
China Eximbank funded the ongoing $150 million upgrade of Victoria Falls airport.
Chaota said the expansion programme would be implemented in phases based on arrivals at the terminal.
Tourism is one of Zimbabwe’s economic drivers, currently contributing 10 percent of the gross domestic product. Government also sees arrivals rising to 3,2 million in 2015 from 2,5 million this year.
“For Kariba airport we are looking at between $80 and $90 million… because we have not yet completed the designs of both the runway and the terminal building,” he said.
On renewed interest by international airlines to fly into Zimbabwe, Chaota said while there will be no new comers in the first quarter, some regional and international carriers had expressed interest in flying through the country’s prime tourist destination, Victoria Falls.
The airlines are mainly from Asia, one from Europe and several from Africa, he added.
“We do have a number of airlines that are doing their market studies right now in Zimbabwe to see what they can do, particularly for Victoria Falls,” said Chaota.
“Victoria Falls is a good link for tourism traffic in Africa which has been going via Johannesburg. By bringing in Victoria Falls and making it available will also increase our chances of getting more airlines and also improving our tourism activity in the town and Zimbabwe at large.Advertisement
“If Victoria Falls starts firing then Buffalo Range will start firing. They are so related. If Buffalo Range starts firing, so will Kariba.”
CAAZ runs eight airports in the country — Harare International, Joshua Nkomo, Charles Prince, Buffalo Range, Masvingo, Victoria Falls, Kariba and Hwange National Park Airport.