The Sunday Mail
Government has secured US$153 million from China for the expansion of the Harare International Airport with reconstruction work set to start in November.
The China Export Import Bank has extended the loan facility for the project to be undertaken by Chinese engineering firm, China Jiangsu.
Recently, China Jiangsu successfully completed the expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport.
The expansion of Harare International Airport, which will soon be renamed Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, will increase the facility’s capacity from handling around 2,5 million travellers to over 6 million annually.
The development comes amid increasing interest by major international airlines to fly to Zimbabwe.
Already, Ethiopian Airlines has introduced flights to Victoria Falls, while Lufthansa and Rwanda Air are engaging the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe in pursuit of operating permits.
Further, Air Zimbabwe will soon take delivery of six aircraft next month as part of Government’s efforts to revive the national flag carrier.
The extensive upgrade work will include modernisation of facilities at the airport, with the car park set to be transformed into a multi-storey facility that can handle hundreds of vehicles. Modern airport bridges will also be installed at new gates while the runway will also be expanded further to allow for multiple landings at the same time.
Currently, only one airplane can land at any given time.
Technology will also be upgraded with a new radar system being deployed.
Moving walkways, a slow-moving conveyor mechanism that transports passengers across a horizontal or inclined plane over a short to medium distance, will also be installed.
All designs for the upgrade have already been completed and approved.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo told The Sunday Mail last week that funding for the project has finally been secured.
He said: “We were being slowed down by the funding constraints but now we have secured the money and are ready to hit the ground running.
“The China Export Import Bank has loaned us the US$153 million required for the upgrade.
“China Jiangsu did the expansion of Victoria Falls (International Airport) and will be handling the project. They will begin work on the Harare International Airport by November.
“We already have the designs, we will have a new car park which will be in the form of a parkade.
“We will also upgrade the radar system while the runways will be expanded to allow for more than just one plane to land at a time.
“We are looking at having a facility that is at the same level as the OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa.
“After the work is done, the airport will have the capacity to handle more than six million travellers a year.”
The upgrade of the Victoria Falls International Airport has seen an increase in the number of direct flights to the resort town.
Zimbabwe expects to attract an increasing number of tourists, especially from non-traditional markets.
The rehabilitation of the transit facilities is intended to facilitate the movement of tourists.