...surpasses 2018 by 122 plane landings
CHIREDZI – Year 2019 has so far recorded a notable increase in air traffic movement at Buffalo Range International Airport as compared to 2018, with the arrival of chartered planes signaling an improving tourism industry.
Travellers are mainly tourists visiting Malilangwe Trust Conservancy, Save Valley Conservancy, and Gonarezhou National Park.
A significant number of travellers are also Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe (THZ)’s business partners.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) corporate public relations and communications officer Anna Julia Hungwe told TellZim News the period between January and July 2019 had seen a marked rise in the arrival of international guests compared to the same period last year.
She said 641 planes have landed at the airport so far this year compared 519 planes that landed during the same period last year.
"Capacity of planes is not easy to determine given that there are no scheduled services at Buffalo Range Airport. All movements at the airport are charter services hence they change equipment depending on the demands of the day. Traffic is dominated by tourists and people engaging in business,” said Hungwe.
In January 2019, 44 planes with 128 passengers landed at Buffalo Range Airport while 36 landed in February bringing in 69 passengers.
March saw 71 planes with 70 passengers, April had 65 planes with 80 passengers, May had 114 planes with 264 passengers, June had 159 with 395 passengers and July came with 152 planes carrying 438 passengers.
Buffalo Range Airport ranks fourth in the country in terms of passenger volumes; with Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and Victoria Falls International Airport coming first, second and third respectively.
In 2015, the airport’s terminal building received a facelift made possible by a Public Private Partnership undertaken by the CAAZ, Malilangwe Trust and THZ.
She said plans were being made for further upgrades of the airport to improve capacity of the runway and other facilities.
"There are long term plans to further upgrade the airport and its facilities. The runway length is 1.578 metres long and 30 metres wide - good enough to land medium-sized aircraft. At the moment, plans are to increase capacity at the airport through collaboration and destination marketing," she said.