Airlines Exodus From Zimbabwe Could Hurt Ailing Economy

Airlines Exodus From Zimbabwe Could Hurt Ailing Economy

Only a few weeks after Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) said it planned to halt its flights to Zimbabwe’s capital Harare,  EgyptAir has also revealed that it is pulling out of the southern Africa country next month, citing a harsh operating environment in the southern African nation.

EgyptAir resumed its operations on the Cairo-Harare route last year after suspending the flights nine years ago.

“Tourists tend to lose confidence in us as a tourism destination when they see airlines withdrawing,” Karikoga Kaseke, chief executive officer of government controlled tourism body, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, was quoted by Ventures Africa saying.

Other international airlines including Qantas, Air France, and Lufthansa have all pulled out of Zimbabwe over the past decade due to dwindling passenger numbers and an unstable economic environment.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been hurt by sanctions instituted by the international community after President Robert Mugabe unconstitutionally ordered the takeover of white owned lands by the black majority.

Its national carrier, Air Zimbabwe, also ceased operation due to financial constraints and mismanagement that saw it hit by frequent workers strikes while it incurred huge losses from it near obsolete fleet.

Kenya Airway’s, one of Africa’s leading airline, still operates the route and the Zimbabwe’s government is counting on it take over the gap left by recent KLM and EgyptAir exits.

In an interview with Xinhua, Transport Minister Obert Mpofu said Zimbabwe had signed more than 10 air service agreements with airlines in Africa, Europe and Asia that he hoped will boost the number of airlines flying into the country from the current 17.

Mpofu said a code share arrangement KLM has with Kenya Airways and the reduced number of Zimbabweans going into Europe could also have contributed to the non-viability of the route.

“We are aware that they code share with Kenya Airways so they are going to be using Kenya Airways for this route,” the minister told Xinhua.

“They were competing among themselves yet they are actually in partnership. They have cited viability challenges which could be all for reasons best known to them.”