Qatar Airways to fly into Zimbabwe for the first time

Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker says airline expanding its network, despite pandemic

Qatar Airways is adding Zimbabwe to its schedule starting August, the first time that the Doha-based airline flies into the country.

A new service connecting Lusaka and Harare will be operated on August 6, with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Qatar announced Monday.  With the addition of these two new routes the carrier will operate over 100 weekly flights to 27 destinations in Africa.

The launch of Lusaka and Harare supports increased demand for trade between Zambia and Zimbabwe and destinations on the Qatar Airways network such as London, Frankfurt and New York and from multiple points in China, the airline said.

Africa continues to be an area of strong growth for Qatar Airways and launching this service will support the development of the economy and tourism sector in both countries, says Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker.

“Not only do we continue to rebuild our network after the pandemic, but we are actively expanding it with the addition of these two key destinations. These are the fifth and sixth new destinations in Africa added to our network since the start of the pandemic, taking our total new destinations added across the globe to 10,” he said.

Qatar Airways signalled its plans to open the Harare route last year, when new Qatari ambassador to Zimbabwe, Salem Al-Jaber, told reporters the airline was assessing the route. Last week, Qatar began advertising for jobs in Harare, including a Country Manager.

Says the airline: “With a total of 30 tonnes of cargo capacity on the aircraft per flight, Qatar Airways Cargo will play a key role in facilitating key exports from Zambia and Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe is desperate to increase flight traffic into Zimbabwe, which has slowed down over the years due to the economic slowdown. Air traffic took a worse hit last year as global travel collapsed due to COVID-19.

Earlier in June, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a unit of the World Bank, will provide technical and advisory support towards a Zimbabwe government plan to attract more airlines and flights into Victoria Falls and help the tourism hub recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Eurowings, a unit of Lufthansa, announced on June 16 that it will be adding Victoria Falls to its roster starting June next year.

Global air travel is expected to bounce back only in 2023 as countries roll out Covid-19 vaccines and learn to manage the pandemic, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata). It predicts that passenger numbers would recover to 52% of pre-COVID levels by the end of this year, reach 88% next year, and surpass pre-COVID levels by 5% in 2023.

READ ALSO: World Bank’s IFC agrees to back Zimbabwe plan to bring more flights back into Vic Falls