BUDGET airline fastjet says it wants to play a bigger role in reviving tourism in Matabeleland after launching a Harare-Bulawayo service on Friday.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The airline, which already has flights between Harare, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg, came in as a direct competitor to Air Zimbabwe, which had monopolised the route for many years.
“Bulawayo has so much to offer tourists, business and all other sectors,” fastjet accountable manager Ed Berry told guests at a function to mark the inaugural flight at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo (JMN) International Airport.
“Fastjet will help you increase the tourism business in this town.
“Mobile phones in Africa have opened up communications across the whole continent so our airline fastjet is going to revolutionise aviation in Zimbabwe.”
Berry said fastjet was looking forward to servicing more domestic routes as it increased it presence in Zimbabwe.
“Fastjet has more than 100 flights a week and we are managing 90% on time performances and we feel fastjet is for businessmen, tourism and for the general public in Bulawayo.
“Fastjet intends to grow further in Zimbabwe as we will be applying for more routes between Harare and Bulawayo.
“We want to start the second flight as soon as possible and move onto a third.”
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe director of airports Tawanda Guzha said JMN International Airport needed for more flights and fastjet’s decision to add Bulawayo to its destinations was a major boost.
“We have been pushing for more flights so that we have more usage of this facility, so it is with great pleasure that I stand here today to be able to welcome fastjet to this airport,” he said.
“For that effort to see the light of day, it is through the policies guided by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural development.”
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Angeline Masuku said increased flights to the city would help in efforts to revive industry and create jobs.
JMN International Airport, which was refurbished in 2013, handles a mere 70 000 passengers a year compared to a peak of 300 000 in the 1990s.
During that time Air Zimbabwe had competition from the now-defunct Zimbabwe Express Airlines.