KLM, Lam resume Zim flights

HARARE - KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) and Mozambique Airlines (Lam) are next week set to resume flights to Harare, bringing increased competition to the country’s skies.

The two airlines will bring to 14, international carriers servicing the Harare route.

KLM makes a comeback with a direct flight after a 13-year absence.

The carrier will fly an Airbus A330-200 into Harare three times a week from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the flights will be operated on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“The first KLM-flight will take place on October 29 and will arrive on 9.25pm at Harare International Airport,” Air France-KLM said.

The Harare route, which will be served in combination with Lusaka, Zambia, will also offer 11 weekly services to Harare through Nairobi in cooperation with Kenya Airways.

“KLM sees growth opportunities in Africa. The KLM flights will bring business to Harare and will give Zimbabweans the opportunity to ease their businesses with the Netherlands,” the airline said.

Lam on the other hand said it would start with twice weekly flights to Harare from Maputo and the port city of Beira on Wednesdays and Sundays from October 31.

The Mozambique airline said the flights stopover in Beira will allow it to feed into its other regional destinations which include Johannesburg, Luanda, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.

The airline’s joins a growing list of regional and global carriers returning to Zimbabwe after leaving the country in the last decade as political and economic conditions continued to deteriorate.

The resumption of service by the two airlines comes as Emirates, another international airline that started flights into the country in February, has increased its frequency from five times a week to daily, driven by the strong performance of the route.

The Dubai-based carrier early this year said it had carried over 35 000 passengers since its maiden flights to Harare in, translating to over 1 250 passengers per week.

The company has also launched a freight division, Emirates SkyCargo , a dedicated freighter flight into Harare International Airport.

The cargo-only Boeing 777 aircraft arrives from Dubai every Friday and continue to Johannesburg before returning to Dubai.

The airplane has capacity to carry 103 tonnes of freight, adding to the existing weekly cargo capacity of 160 tonnes on Emirates’ scheduled passenger service.

Qatar Airways Company (Qatar Airways) another Middle East-based airline is also expected to launch a service into the country.

Negotiations  with Qatar Airways which flies to over 100 international destinations from its Doha hub, according to the Transport ministry officials were at an advanced stage and could be concluded once it finalised its route to Harare.

Airlines are moving in to fill in the void left by Air Zimbabwe which has continued to dogged by operational challenges due to mounting debts among various factors.

Air travel in Zimbabwe is dominated by foreign carriers, mainly South African Airways which 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.

Recently it announced growth plans for its Harare route among four others in line with directions from South African public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba for the airline to prioritise African routes.

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