Major facelift for local airports

17 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
Major facelift for local airports

The Sunday Mail

Emmanuel Kafe

Government has approved the construction of three new domestic airports, while three existing ones are expected to undergo major refurbishment work this year.

The development is envisaged to vastly improve domestic air connectivity and aid the resuscitation of the tourism sector.

New airports are set to be developed in Mutare, Beitbridge and Gweru, while Kariba Airport will be relocated. Masvingo and Hwange National Park Airport terminal buildings and runways are also set for major refurbishment works.

In an interview, Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) chief executive officer Mr Tawanda Gusha said authorities were mobilising resources for the programme. ACZ operates a network of eight airports, some of which are scheduled for expansion.

“Robert Gabriel Mugabe (RGM) International Airport is currently being upgraded and is expected to be completed by June 2023,” he said.

“Victoria Falls International Airport was upgraded and commissioned in 2016.

“Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport was upgraded and commissioned in 2013, and plans for the new air traffic control tower and fire station are at an advanced stage, with implementation planned for 2022.”

Buffalo Range Airport terminal building was refurbished in 2016, while its runway was redeveloped last year.

“On schedule is the construction of new airports including Grand Reef in Mutare, Beitbridge and Gweru.

“Relocation of Kariba Airport and upgrading of Masvingo and Hwange National Park Airport terminal buildings and the runways are earmarked for the medium term. All are programmed to start as soon as funding is finalised.”

The tourism sector, he said, was set to receive a major boost from the airports development programme.

Since the upgrade of Victoria Falls International Airport, traffic into Victoria Falls doubled pre-Covid-19.

“Aviation plays a critical role in providing access into and around the country, generating economic growth, creating jobs and facilitating both domestic and international trade and tourism.

“The enhancement thereof begins with infrastructure development, which is complemented by business development,” he added.

In his Independence Day celebrations speech, President Mnangagwa reiterated that rehabilitation of local airports was a priority.

“Apart from the international airports, we are also moving forward with local connectivity through the rehabilitation of domestic airports and the works at Buffalo Range Airport are now done. We now move to the other provincial airports to boost our tourism,” President Mnangagwa said.

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