LOW-COST airline, Fastjet, yesterday officially launched its Bulawayo-Johannesburg flight, which is expected to increase capacity utilisation of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and enhance business linkages.
The new direct route from the City of Kings provides a full day link between the two cities, with convenient morning and evening flights from Bulawayo to Johannesburg, and vice versa – everyday with a well-considered schedule on Sundays, senior company officials said.
This adds 22 flight frequencies per week to the airline’s international schedule with planned flight timings expected to maximise productive business time for travellers.
The development is set to increase Fastjet Zimbabwe’s international schedule to South Africa’s Oliver Tambo International Airport, a known gateway to the rest of Africa and other world destinations.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Joel Biggie Matiza, director in charge of human resource, Mr Andrew Berven-Murungweni said the event was a momentous occasion for the aviation industry in Zimbabwe and Bulawayo in particular.
“The launch will greatly improve Zimbabwe’s route networks and connectivity. Certainly, this move is a real game changer for Zimbabwe and the travelling public,” he said.
“This is a potentially lucrative regional route. This development will greatly improve the capacity utilisation of the JM Nkomo International Airport and to this end Government will continue to upgrade its facilities.”
Fastjet Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Mr Joao Sousa, said Bulawayo was a strategic destination and revealed that his company had long-planned to service the route.
“We have long waited for this service and there is huge opportunity. We will not talk about our competitors but the offer that the market has is enough hence we decided to launch this route. We’ll not let you down,” he said.
The airport’s capacity utilisation is currently around 10 percent and the new route launch is expected to increase it to about 20 percent, JMN Airport general manager, Mr Passmore Dewa, said in an interview.
Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni, commended the launch of the new flight saying this will enhance convenience for travellers given Bulawayo’s strong links with South Africa, which is good for business and leisure.
Business executives, senior Government officials and tour operators witnessed the event.