BUDGET airline, Fastjet Zimbabwe, yesterday flew its inaugural flight from Victoria Falls to Maun in Botswana, the centre for the tourism industry of the Okavango Delta, in a development that will boost local tourism.
The new service route will operate four times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
The new flight arrangement will provide the much-needed scheduled connectivity between Victoria Falls and Maun, allowing visitors wanting to see the top regional attractions to get around easily.
“We are thrilled to launch a scheduled service to Maun in Botswana from our ever-growing Victoria Falls tourism hub,” said Mr Nunurai Ndawana, fastjet Zimbabwe spokesperson.
“We continue to strengthen Victoria Falls as a regional tourism hub and the introduction of this new flight service four times a week will connect two of Southern Africa’s most sought-after destinations, the Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta, with a reliable scheduled air service”.
Fastjet Zimbabwe chief commercial officer Ms Vivian Ruwuya said: “Victoria Falls remains one of our strategic destinations and this route adds to fastjet’s international presence in the region.
“To ensure the sustainable development of this route, we are going to adjust our size and operate the Maun flights using a dual fleet model of our Embraer ERJ145 aircraft and our partner’s Cessna Grand Caravan 208B.
“Both aircraft are known for their ability to provide the versatility to build a sustainable regional network with their right-size capacity.”
Mr Anald Musonza, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe chairman for Victoria Falls, yesterday praised Fastjet for continuing to promote destination Zimbabwe.
“Fastjet are what we could call tourism’s all-weather friend. They have provided access when our access situation was doomed,” said Mr Musonza, who is also the resort general manager for Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.
“As HAZ, we applaud the ingenuity and resilience that has been shown by the Fastjet business model. We plead with all our travel industry partners to support Fastjet so as to grow their capacity of seats and airlift into our destination.” He said the regional integration brought about by linking Victoria Falls with Maun, Kruger, Harare, Johannesburg, among others, had been “phenomenal”, and gives the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area region hope for re-igniting growth.
“We are seeing our industry come back swiftly with such air access growth. We are happy this quick gap filling of the airlift capacity has coincided with the onset of peak season. We look forward to a decent peak season,” said Mr Musonza. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Ms Winnie Muchanyuka congratulated fastjet for the launch.
“We are delighted to see this development as the ZTA. It’s such a welcome initiative because it is one more point that visitors into the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area will get to appreciate.