Who is behind Zimbabwe’s new Air Services Development Program?
The newly formed Airports Company of Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (ACZ) has a new CEO, Tawanda Gusha. ACZ is pioneering a new Air Service Development Program to proactively secure new routes for Victoria Falls. Mr. Gusha announced today that the Program has secured its first major long-haul route operated by ‘Eurowings Discover’ via Windhoek. Eurowings Discover is part of the Lufthansa Group. We took this opportunity to ask Mr. Gusha a few questions:
Q. What is the purpose of the Air Services Development Program?
A: The Air Services Development Program is a new, dedicated route development initiative. It is led by a committee of ACZ, together with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and other tourism stakeholders. The committee works to identify opportunities for establishing new routes or new frequencies, with the overall goal of increasing air connectivity for Victoria Falls. We then work with airlines to implement these new services, and with industry stakeholders to ensure the success of these services, thus contributing to the overall development of the destination.
Q: How does the program identify which airlines to pitch to?
A: We work with a consulting team of route development experts (CPCS/Wesgro) and use a combination of large-scale international datasets on air traffic to study gaps in air connectivity and to identify opportunities for new flights, in line with the destination’s infrastructure and tourism profile. As well as pitching to new airlines for new routes, an important part of the program is to work closely with those airlines already flying to Victoria Falls to maintain and grow their presence. This will be particularly important as we work to restore connectivity post the COVID-19 global pandemic which as you know has had a devastating impact on aviation.
Q: How will the program engage with the private sector?
A: The private sector’s vision for a destination is a critical consideration for airlines looking to set up a new route or frequency. As we formalize our route development planning, we are regularly engaging the private sector from Victoria Falls and beyond to make sure that our objectives are aligned with tourism development visions and plans. Ultimately, it is the private sector that drives the offer, in terms of hotel infrastructure and other tourism services, for the destination. We work hand in hand with the private sector to contribute to their success which will translate in overall economic development once our goal of developing Victoria Falls as a regional tourism hub is realized and achieved.
Q: What do you most want to achieve in your new role?
A: I look forward to expanding the Victoria Falls route network to help the destination grow into a regional air transport gateway and tourism hub. As a hub to an amazingly rich region in terms of natural wonders and culture, I hope that Victoria Falls will be able to drive air traffic and tourism across the country and into the surrounding region. Furthermore, I look forward to working with my team to position the ACZ Brand on the regional and global aviation map through strategies that grow and develop the amazing work done by the CAAZ and ably spearheaded by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development. This includes the continued development of airport infrastructure to meet the needs of modern-day aviation as well as the development of non-aeronautical revenue streams on a sustainable basis. My dream is to see the ACZ ranked among the employers-of-choice and this can only be achieved through the support and dedication of the aviation industry and stakeholders, key of whom are the employees and the shareholders.
The Air Services Development Program is being supported with technical advice made available through the Zimbabwe Destination Development Program, supported by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.