Burgeoning Vic Falls airport taking strain

The recently built Victoria Falls International Airport is battling to meet the burgeoning air traffic demands, with problems of congestion and delays. As traffic continues to grow, with airlines jostling to introduce direct flights to Victoria Falls, the problem is worsening.

The airport’s construction began in February 2013 and was carried out by a Chinese firm, China Jiangsu International Group through a concessionary loan by the China Export and Import Bank. It has been built to handle around 1.5 milllion passengers annually, up from the old airport’s 500 000 capacity. However, it is battling to handle the 310 000 seats currently arriving per annum; a 127 000 seat increase since the 183 000 seats arriving per annum in February 2017 (figures according to estimates by Africa Albida Tourism).

At a press briefing, Zimbabwe Immigration Department principal director, Clemence Masango, said immigration officials reported that the arrivals lounge lacked the capacity to accommodate the deluge of passengers.

“I have engaged with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to find a solution. I want to point out that although the airport is new, the plan for the refurbishment was drawn up 20 years ago. Many things are not right. The arrival lounge can only accommodate 600 people. That is only enough space for about three full planes, carrying on average 200 passengers each.”

However, hotel operators in Victoria Falls are reporting better-than-expected profits, with occupancy levels pushing 90%.

Africa Albida Tourism chief executive, Ross Kennedy, said the tourism industry in Victoria Falls was working very closely with all of the public sector departments and ministries to ensure that this demand is matched by service delivery enhancements. 

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