Air Zimbabwe is on the verge of striking a partnership deal with Zambezi Airlines that will result in the two airlines code sharing on regional and international routes.
Zambezi Airlines, a Zambian carrier formed last year, commenced the Lusaka-Harare flights this month reviving the route left by the now defunct Zambia Airways.
Zambia Airways used to fly the Harare-Lusaka route but pulled out in 2007 citing viability constraints before going belly up a year later.
Zambezi Airlines chairman, Maurice Jangulo told Standardbusiness on the sidelines of the airline’s Lusaka-Harare route launch on Thursday that discussions with Air Zim were underway on how the two airlines could do code sharing.
“We are discussing with them about a code sharing where we can have one flight from here to Jo’burg operated by both airlines, to Lusaka and also from Harare-Lusaka to Dar es Salaam then from Harare-Lusaka to Blantyre,” he said.
“This will allow passengers from Harare to go to all those destinations on either an Air Zimbabwe flight or Zambezi Airlines flight using a document of either airlines.”
Code sharing is a practice in which airlines sell space on the same flights, where a seat can be purchased on one airline as if actually operated by a cooperating airline under a different flight number or code.
Jangulo said discussions would start on regional routes ultimately leading to a partnership on international routes such as China, London and Dubai.
Asked what had motivated the airline to fly into Zimbabwe, Jangulo said it saw an opportunity.
“We saw a potential market which had been underserved by South African carriers so we wanted to give them more competition and give the people of Zimbabwe a world-class and affordable service, with a lot of flexibility,” Jangulo said.
Tourism players said the coming on board of Zambezi Airlines would improve on the accessibility of the country as a tourism destination.
“The issue of access to Zimbabwe as a destination has always been something that we (tourism operators) were concerned about. There were a few airlines that were coming into Zimbabwe and if you recall there were 45 international airlines serving Harare and that figure had gone down to below 10,” said Givemore Chidzidzi, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority acting CEO.
Emmanuel Fundira, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president said the coming on board of a new airline would connect people to destinations without too much hassles.
He said it also increased competition and would ultimately lead to a reduction in fares.
“Movement in Africa is difficult and because of that the cost of travel is expensive so we see the introduction of an airline as something which will bring efficiency and competition which by the end of the day will also address issues in terms of price which is always a bone of contention with regard to travel,” Fundira said.
Chipo Mtasa, Rainbow Tourism Group CEO said the air access was one of the biggest issues affecting tourism in the region.
“You find that Victoria Falls had been starved and now with the Zambezi Airlines flying the Johannesburg-Harare — Lusaka route, there will be more travel and ease of access into Victoria Falls and other areas,” she said.
Zimbabwe has been luring airlines and under the open skies policy airlines interested in flying into the country can do so as long as they meet the regulatory requirements.
Government has also rolled out some incentives that include free navigation, landing, parking and docking during the first six months of operation for an airline commencing a new service.