Vice President Constantine Chiwenga said that the country must open up the skies if aviation is to play its catalytic role in the development of the economy during the official opening of the Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo in Bulawayo yesterday.
The Vice President was challenging the Ministries of Tourism and Hospitality and Transport and Infrastructure Development to work closely together and bring in airlines from all over the world.
“We must open up our skies if aviation is to play its catalytic role in the development of this economy,” Chiwenga said.
“On the development front we have opened up the domestic airspace for other players and we have seen new airlines now competing on our domestic routes.”
The Deputy President also spoke of the need to transform the indebted Air Zimbabwe.
“As a nation, we are conscious that we can tremendously improve destination accessibility if we transform our own national airline, Air Zimbabwe, into an efficient and vibrant entity that can compete with any other carrier,” Chiwenga said.
“Indeed, with open skies complemented by open borders, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector will be poised for growth and development for the benefit of the economy.”
Air Zimbabwe, which has a debt of US$341 million both foreign and domestic, was banned in Europe over safety reason as the plane failed to acquire spare parts.
Opening up skies to allow other airlines raised fears that the move will damage Air Zimbabwe’s revival chances.
The country’s national plane has been carrying 70 000 passengers per annum according to statistics.