Emirates makes maiden flight to Harare
By Privilege Musvanhiri | iZimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Emirates made its maiden flight to Zimbabwe Wednesday, making it the first Middle East airline to fly the Dubai-Harare route. The airline briefly operated cargo flights to Harare in 2004.
The EK 713 flight touched down at Harare Interational Airport to a traditional water cannon salute late Wednesday.
Emirates will fly the Dubai-Lusaka-Harare route five times per week with an outlook to increase to daily flights by October 2012.
Speaking at the official welcome ceremony the Divisional Senior Vice President Revenue Optimisation and Distribution Nabil Sultan said Emirates has decided to fly the Zambia and Zimbabwe route owing to the projected five percent annual economic growth expected in the coming years.
“Zambia and Zimbabwe are both important emerging business and industrial centres, with economies that are projected to grow by over five per cent annually during the coming years.”
“Emirates new service will play a significant role in supporting this growth by connecting Lusaka and Harare to our worldwide network, opening new conduits for trade investment and tourism,” Sultan said.
The Harare-Lusaka service will carry a cargo capacity of 15 tonnes aboard Airbus A330-200 for the linked Harare-Lusaka route.
The route is expected to support the import and export of a diverse range of commodities, such as machinery, textiles clothing, electronics and pharmaceuticals.
Imports are expected from markets like the United Arab Emirates, South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and Europe.
Emirates is expected to employ about 20 specialists in its city and airport offices in Harare. Globally, Emirates Group employs 87 Zimbabwean nationals.
In his address at the official welcome ceremony, the Minister of Transport and Communication Nicholas Goche said the coming of Emirates should stimulate interest of flying to Zimbabwe by other international airlines.
“The coming of Emirates is a significant development for us. This should send a signal to other international airlines to consider Zimbabwe as a prime destination,” Goche said.
Minister Goche added Emirates airways flights to Harare came after a spirited efforts by various stakeholders.
Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates signed an aviation bilateral agreement in 1997 and entered into a memorandum of Agreement with Dubai in 2005.
Several international airlines have applied to Zimbabwean authorities for resumption of flights to Harare.
These include, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Egypt Air, Swiss Air, Bulgarian Airlines, Qantas, KLM and Lufthansa.
German carrier Lufthansa applied for a code sharing arrangement with Ethiopian airlines to Zimbabwe authorities but is yet to get an approval of their application
Minister Goche said his ministry is keen to see Lufthansa resuming flights to Zimbabwe but not through a code sharing arrangement with another airline.