The state-of-the-art Victoria Falls International Airport, built by a Chinese firm, is already proving its potential as a premier destination for airlines from various countries.
The airport was built by China Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group and commissioned by President Mugabe in November last year.
While it is important that the new-look airport is a symbol of the progress being made in Zimbabwe, it significantly represents the progressive relations between the country and China.
It is a sample of what can be achieved in other areas of Zimbabwe’s economic revival, as the Asian economic giant has since indicated its willingness to help the country in all aspects.
Well, the good economic and political relations between China and Zimbabwe cannot be in doubt, as they have been well rooted in mutual trust and win-win cooperation.
What is now critical is to take these relations forward and make them start benefiting people from both sides.
And there is no doubt that establishments such as the Victoria Falls International Airport will help bring the benefits to the grassroots.
A few months after its commissioning, international airlines are already stampeding to land at the airport.
The end result is that more tourists will eventually flock to Victoria Falls from all over the world, as the new airport can now accommodate planes of different sizes and shapes.
Ethiopian Airlines has already started flying directly to Victoria Falls from Addis Ababa en-route to Gaborone, Botswana, while South African Airways has unveiled a bigger plane, an Airbus A330-200, for the route.
Kenyan Airways, Emirates, Qatar and RwandAir have also announced they will be flying directly to Victoria Falls.
Etihad has a code share with British Airways to fly to the world acclaimed tourism destination, while Lufthansa has a similar arrangement with South African Airways.
This is in addition to other airlines that have been flying to the premier tourist destination like British Airways, South African Airways, ComAir, Air Namibia and Air Zimbabwe.
For many years, the Victoria Falls has been touted as critical to Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround, but its potential has been suppressed.
Now, the proverbial “phoenix” is set to rise, thanks to the Chinese firm for reconstructing the airport to international standards.
There is no doubt that China Jiangsu International did an exceptional job and managed to exhibit well the spirit that characterises China’s rise from poverty a few years ago to a moderately rich society.
The construction and refurbishment of the airport was made possible by a $150 million concessional loan facility provided to Zimbabwe by the China Export and Import Bank in 2012.
The civil engineering works began in 2013, resulting in the construction of a new four-kilometre long and 60 metres wide runway, an international terminal building, a fire station, control tower and installing of state-of-the-art specialist aviation equipment.
The old airport was also renovated and will now serve as the domestic terminal building.
President Mugabe was so impressed by the work done by China Jiangsu International, which he said would enhance cooperation between Zimbabwe and China.
“China Jiangsu International, the Chinese contractor engaged on this project, met our requirements,” he said while commissioning the new airport.
[By Lovemore Chikova, Zimbabwe Herald]