From the start of next month, Emirates is to increase capacity on the Zimbabwe and Zambia route. This will be achieved by replacing the current Airbus A340-300 that serves the route with a Boeing 777-300ER, offering a further 97 Economy Class seats per flight from February 1, 2016.
The additional seats will help to meet the growing demand of the route, as well as helping the growing and vibrant tourism and business sectors. The route has been in operation from Dubai to Harare via Lusaka since February 2011.
“As Emirates we are constantly seeking ways to enhance our services, and the upgauge to the Boeing 777-300ER on the Lusaka-Harare route is part of our commitment to offer Zambian and Zimbabwean travellers even more comfort and entertainment on our daily service,” said Orhan Abbas, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa, Emirates Airline.
The news will benefit Zambia and Zimbabwe, which both have limited connectivity to markets outside of the continent. Both countries have been improving their aviation in recent years; following declines in the area.
The Zambian government intends to establish a national carrier within the next 12 months, in a bid to revive the aviation sector. Zambia has been without a national carrier since 2009, when Zambia Airways collapsed with a debt of US$29 million, citing the high cost of fuel as the main reason for suspending operations.
Zambia is also set to start its Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBUs) National Implementation Plan, expected to be established before the end of 2017. This is in place to achieve improvements on safety and costs with an approach on airport operations, globally interoperable systems and data, optimum capacity and flexible flights, and efficient flight path.
The number of regional and international airlines coming into Zambia has increased by more than 60 per cent in the last ten years. Expansion work is in place on the four international airports of Zambia – Mfuwe Airport, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport. These works will cost $200 million to complete.
Zimbabwe are currently enjoying the largest improvement of economic freedom of any nation. After near collapse, there has been five years of economic improvements consecutively. In Zimbabwe, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and South African Airways – considered the ‘big three’ African airlines – account for almost 60 per cent of capacity serving the international market.
“We are also able to offer more seats, ensuring capacity to meet growing demand on the route, not just outbound from Zimbabwe and Zambia, but also inbound from the United States, UK and Australia”Orhan Abbas
Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa, Emirates Airline
Economic problems and a decline in tourism activity have contributed to the declining aircraft movement in recent years. The introduction of the Boeing 777-300ER to this route will help to build tourism within the countries. The larger belly-hold to carry cargo on the aircraft offers 23 tonnes of capacity per flight – supporting the two countries’ exports such as vegetables and flowers, and imports ranging from pharmaceuticals to mining equipment.
The deployment of aircraft will mean that Emirates’ southern African network will be an all Boeing 777 operation with the type already deployed on flights to Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, and Luanda in Angola. With aircraft retirements the Boeing 777 forms the backbone of the Emirates fleet with 155 examples in service and a further 190 on order.
The African market is growing, and increases to capacity on routes shows that. Dr John Tambi, NEPAD’s Transport Infrastructure Expert believes Africa is the only frontier left on the air transport market, and aviation could be a catalyst for connecting the continent: “Africa has one of the fastest air transport growth rates on the globe at 6 per cent, so this is where the market is at,” he said
“Africa has the fastest growing middle class (which is estimated at 300 million by 2030), so there is purchasing power, there is the propensity to travel. With a single African air space that the African Union is currently pushing for, opportunities will arise for the private sector to work together with the public sector, to build airports, improve safety and air traffic management,” he added.
This Emirates route into southern Africa is strongly supported by onward passenger flows via Dubai International Airport. In fact, MIDT data for the first half of last year shows that local traffic accounts for just 8.2 per cent of total demand on the route. The United Kingdom is the largest O&D market for passengers during this analysis period, accounting for around 10.7 per cent of the total demand, while the top individual city markets outside of the route triangle comprised London, Beijing, Manchester, Guangzhou, Birmingham and Mumbai.
“We are also able to offer more seats, ensuring capacity to meet growing demand on the route, not just outbound from Zimbabwe and Zambia, but also inbound from the United States, UK and Australia, as we continue to build and strengthen trade and tourism links between Zimbabwe and Zambia with markets in the rest of Emirates’ extensive global network, through seamless and convenient connections via our Dubai hub,” added Abbas.