Ethiopian Airlines made its maiden flight to Bulawayo on Sunday as it landed at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.
The airline, which already flies into Zimbabwe through Harare and Victoria Falls, is set to provide service four times a week from Addis Ababa to Bulawayo through Victoria Falls.
The coming of more international airlines is attributed to Zimbabwe’s Open Skies Policy, according to The Herald. More than 18 airlines are flying into the country.
Speaking at the welcome ceremony, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Engineer Theodius Chinyanga, said Ethiopian Airlines will aid in increasing economic growth in the country.
Before Ethiopian Airlines came to Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, the only other international flight in and out of the airport was to Johannesburg in South Africa, which is operated by Airlink.
The airline’s chief commercial officer, Mr Lemma Yadesga Gudeta, expressed confidence that the airline will facilitate easy international access by increasing connectivity.
In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mesfin Tasew, said the Bulawayo route will enhance international connectivity and facilitate trade within Africa and beyond. Said Mr Tasew:
The commencement of flights to Bulawayo is crucial in connecting Southern Africa to the world with our 130 destinations in five continents. We are glad to serve Bulawayo, the industrial hub of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, accelerating trade with our cargo and passenger services.
Our flights to multiple cities in a country indicate our solid commitment to serve our customers and support our continent as the best pan-African carrier.
Recently, Ethiopian Airlines was the official carrier for the international buyers and journalists who attended this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, after they entered into a partnership with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
Zimbabwe has witnessed increased interest from various airlines in recent years, with some, including Emirates, increasing flight frequency while others, including Germany’s Eurowings Discover airline and RwandAir, have entered the country’s air space.