Zimbabwe is strategically positioning itself on the African continent to creating strong linkages with African airlines through its commitment for an open skies policy as pronounced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Cde Patrick Chinamasa.

Zimbabwe along with many African countries signed an understanding in 1999 captured under the Yamoussoukro Declaration that called for liberalisation of African skies for African airlines, aimed at establishing a single African air transport market by avoiding market restrictions imposed by bilateral air service agreements or immigration hindrances.

18 years down the line, Zimbabwe has made a strong statement of intent on the implementation of this declaration as presented by Minister Chinamasa.

This commitment is viewed by industry players as a positive step to promoting rapid growth and enhanced viability.

Low cost airline FastJet stated in their newsletter alerts that the opening of Zimbabwe’s skies positions the country as a leading nation in the early implementation of the African Union’s Yamoussoukro decision, the open skies vision of the African continent

FastJet Zimbabwe spokesperson  Ms Faith Chaitezvi is quoted as saying her firm will work with all role players to build positively on the significant impact that open skies hold for the Zimbabwean economy.

Since the beginning of this year the Zimbabwean market has attracted new airlines such as Rwandair and more recently Rainbow Airlines.

Other reputable players such as Ethiopian Airlines are recording business along their operational routes with revelations that they are promoting brand Zimbabwe to attract new players.

According to the Minister of Finance, there is also strong consideration to propose for free landing rights to international flights that are not flying into the 2018 national budget as part of incentivising these players for a return on the Zimbabwean route.

Discussions for an open skies policy have prevailed within the tourism industry as players view this initiative as an important step to maximise on the available opportunities in this sector.

Experts highlight that an open skies policy will create opportunities for employment growth and economic development.