Caaz owns up on SAA

HARARE - The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) has conceded it is to blame for the cancelation of night flights to Harare International Airport by South African Airways (SAA).

Last week, SAA cancelled evening flights from Johannesburg to Harare citing poor lighting on the airports runway and is still to resume despite the compilation of a reports by its flight safety officials.

“Harare airport is undergoing refurbishment and because of that, they are operational changes that have to be effected. At the moment they is a system that happens not to be in sync but landing and take-off can still happen,” David Chawota, Caaz chief executive said during the Sanganai Business Forum.

“That facility needs to be sorted out through calibration but they are runway lights at Harare International Airport,” he said.

“It’s just one of those things that popped up but in essence we need to look at these issues on a global perspective. If passengers were used to evening flights, that flight is no longer there but in a fortnight that issue will be addressed.”
Chawota said operations constraints currently facing the airport were a result of economic challenges prevalent in the country.

“We are working on improving things and all that is work in progress. At the moment half of our check-inn desks are not working but at the end of the year they should all be in place,” he said.

“We are developing our systems not only at Caaz but even for all our service providers,” the airports authority boss said.

He said Harare international Airport which was built to handle 2,5 million passengers annually was currently operating at 20 percent capacity.

“We are operating below our full capacity but we are seeking to do is improve our services.

“They might be those spikes in the afternoon when flights arrive which will also be improved so that our efficiency is above 80 percent.”

He said the authority expected the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport to be completed by December.

“The airport should be operational by December, as you know we are currently using a hanger as a terminal at the moment,” Chawota said.

He said The Victoria Falls Airport was also undergoing an upgrade exercise which will be completed in 10 months’ time.

“At Vic Falls Airport we have a project that will kick off which will include the improvement of the runway and a new terminal building. The runway we are trying to put it on a fast track from the initial 12 months.”

SAA recently announced growth plans for its Harare route among four others in line with directions from Public Enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba for the airline to prioritise African routes.

Plans by the airlines come on the back of a recent reduction in airfares on the Harare route among other destinations following a global reduction in jet fuel prices.

SAA in October last year launched an Airbus A330-200 plane to service its Thursday Harare flight, increasing its dominance on the destination.

The carrier currently has 18 flights per week — all being Harare bound — a significant increase from the 8, 12 and 14 flights, respectively — which were once permanently fixtured two years ago.

The airline also flies into the resort town of Victoria Falls seven times a week, once to Bulawayo every day, through its sister company — Airlink.

South African Airways currently has 18 flights per week.

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