Landing fees too high KLM

HARARE - KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) says it will not be increasing the frequency of its flights on the Harare route until high landing fees charged by the Civil Aviation Authority are amended.

Pieter Bootsma, vice president of KLM, said the airline had raised its concerns over the fee structure, a position confirmed by Tourism minister Walter Mzembi.

“We think the fees are too high for an economical and profitable operation, we think they can come down,” Bootsma said.

The KLM executive said due to the high cost structure, it will retain its three times a week flight schedule.

“The issue of the fees will be a pre-condition for us to increase our frequency into the country.”
Bootsma said despite the landing and handling charges concern, its authorisation had been speedily attended too.

“The approval was quickly decided upon after we made a decision to resume flights in early summer,” he said.

“Our decision was that, we saw a market opportunity in the country and this was supported, based on our economic evaluation.”

He said despite increased competition, KLM was confident of sustaining a viable operation.

“Yes the competition is there with Emirates now flying into Dubai, we believe we have a unique advantage through our direct flight into Europe,” Bootsma said.

The airline statements come after the airline is reported to have nearly pulled out of the planned relaunch of the Harare route.

“I had to intervene after they faced problems. I summoned the permanent secretary to my office and the KLM people and told them they had to solve the issue as I want the plan to come as planned,” Mzembi said.

The minister said the matter had now been referred to the Transport ministry which will be expected to address the airlines concerns.

“The issue is being attended too. I am told our fees are four times the regional average and if that’s the case they cannot remain like that,” he said.

“It’s an important issue that has to be addressed because if they remain too high the airlines will not land and opt for cheaper destinations, affecting our tourist arrivals,” Mzembi said.

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

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

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

LAM Mozambique Airlines has also launched flights to Harare, bringing increased competition to the country’s skies.

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

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