EMIRATES today commences daily flights on its Dubai-Lusaka-Harare route eight months after its launch in February. The airline has been flying between Dubai and Harare via Lusaka five times a week since February 1 this year.
Emirates’ country manager for Zimbabwe Mr Raed Al Rahmah on Friday said the increase in flights is an indication of the commitment of the airline to expanding its network within Zimbabwe and Africa.
“We see great potential in this market. To date, Emirates has carried over 43 000 passengers on the route,” he said.
He added that their load factor on the linked route had averaged 80 percent since February. Mr Al Rahmah said that they were also encouraged by the economic growth prospects of Zimbabwe, which he said should spur demand for their service.
“Harare is growing as an important business and industrial centre in Southern Africa.
“It is anticipated that the economy will grow at a rate of 5 percent a year in the coming years and we anticipate strong demand for the service from around our network,” he said.
Looking ahead to the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly by Zimbabwe and Zambia, Mr Al Rahmah said that they were keen to play a part although their role would be determined by the airline’s headquarters.
On the local front Mr Al Rahmah said that they had struck a healthy relationship with local travel agencies and tour operators and were very encouraged by the business being derived from these synergies.
“We have been co-operating well with travel agencies and because of this we recently received an award for the best international airline from the Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agencies,” he said.
Mr Al Rahmah said that their air service has been a hit with local travellers that are not only destined for Dubai but even those connecting to other destinations such as China, the United Kingdom, Germany and India.
The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare service is operated by an A330-200 aircraft that has a three-class configuration offering 12 luxurious First Class seats, 42 seats in Business Class and 183 seats in Economy Class.
Emirates recently introduced a weekly cargo capacity of 224 tonnes that is aimed at supporting the import and export of a diverse range of commodities. Key commodities being shipped from Harare and Lusaka include fresh flowers, fruit, vegetables and copper mining industry by-products.