Government is negotiating a deal with China Exim Bank that will see the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) getting funding to embark on the expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport before the end of the year.
The move by CAAZ to embark on an expansion and refurbishment of the country`s airports which is currently under way, is expected to see the newly-refurbished facilities increase their passenger handling capacities, as well as handling bigger and wide-bodied aircrafts such as the Boeing 777 and Airbus A340.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe General Manager, Mr. David Chawota, said once funding has been unveiled, his organisation will immediately start the expansion project, adding that the Civil Aviation Authority will be completing the taxiway and runway at Harare International Airport in April and December respectively, while Joshua Mqabuko International Airport in Bulawayo will be operational by Independence Day next month.
â€œDefinitely we are going to operationalise Bulawayo Airport before Independence, we will be able to utilise the facilities that are ready for use by the passengers. The project will not be complete we still have to do the tower, expansion of the road from town to the airport,â€ he said.
He said his organisation has passed two International Civil Aviation Organisation audits that were focusing on airport security and safety, a development which confirms that Zimbabwean airspace is safe.
â€œZimbabwe has been found to be compliant in the aviation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation which is a positive development which means that we are safe. But being compliant means does not mean that we have all the facilities that are required in an airport. It only means that we meet the minimum required international standards to be considered safe,â€ he added.
Late last year, the Minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development, Cde Nicholas Goche, told delegates who attended the Pre-Budget Seminar for members of the Lower and Upper Houses in Victoria Falls that government has also earmarked Kariba, Hwange and Buffalo Range Airports for expansion in addition to the projects currently underway at Harare and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airports.
Victoria Falls International Airport mainly handles commercial flights operated on Boeing 737 and smaller aircrafts by Air Namibia, the national Air Zimbabwe, British Airwaysâ€“Comair and South African Airways.