How will Airlink’s Durban to Harare flights benefit SA, Zimbabwe economies?

BY OWN CORRESPONDENT

Airlink will launch direct scheduled flights between Durban and Harare, Zimbabwe from  April 5.

The airline is confident that this measure will increase trade and cooperation between the two southern African states, both reeling under the effects of the pandemic.

Economic ties between Zimbabwe and South Africa

Both Zimbabwe and South Africa boast histories of sanctions by the outside world, leading to close cooperation between the two nations regarding trade.

South Africa has had several trade agreements with Zimbabwe since 1964, as it has with other Sadc nations.

As such, South Africa receives over 75 percent of Zimbabwe’s exports and provides 40 percent of its total imports

Despite its ongoing struggles, Zimbabwe is an important producer of agricultural products, soft commodities and minerals like coal, gold, iron ore, and chromite.

It’s the world’s leading producer of tobacco.

It’s also a place filled with potential for growth and improved economic prosperity.

Naturally, tourism is also a major player in both countries’ economies and Harare serves as the hub of it all.

Why Zimbabwe?

Foreign currency shortages mean Zimbabwe’s government is amenable to currency-generating activities, and a weak currency makes it an attractive destination for savvy investors.

As a result, the country has implemented several incentives to encourage foreign investment, including tax concessions and favourable exchange controls. South Africans are perfectly poised to take advantage of these.

The impact of increased flights to Zimbabwe

While Durban often takes a back seat with regard to tourism and industry, like Harare, it’s an important commercial centre.

The ability to  book Airlink flights directly from KwaZulu-Natal is hoped to boost both tourism and commerce between the two cities.

Durban is an important travel centre for those wishing to explore KZN’s many touristic opportunities including the Drakensberg, beachside towns, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Isimangaliso wetlands, big five game reserves, and battlefields sites.

Likewise, Harare is often the first port of call for those wanting to explore Zimbabwe’s wildlife treasures, historical destinations and the magnificent Victoria Falls.

Opening a gateway between these two cities is sure to streamline international travels for those wanting access to some of southern Africa’s most memorable destinations.

Coming in the wake of a debilitating two years for the travel industry, it goes without saying that both cities welcome this move by the privately-owned airline.

Airlink’s flights from Durban to Harare are the airline’s third service to Zimbabwe, with other flights departing directly from Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Flights aside, South Africa is also in the process of upgrading its road infrastructure to improve access to Beit Bridge, which will further enhance trade logistics between the two countries.

Working for tourism

Airlines are a major player in the travel industry and Airlink is further doing their part to boost tourism by introducing a reward system for their clients.

The Legacy Lifestyle programme, with its 1.2 million members, offers cash-back rewards for passengers travelling with Airlink.

Airlink is also ramping up its flights to other destinations, with direct flights to St Helena and Ascension Island commencing in late March.

In October last year, Airlink joined up with Ethiopian Airlines so that travellers can fly across the two airline’s routes with one ticket. This effectively connects most of South Africa’s smaller airports with international flights offered by Ethiopian Airlines.

Getting back on the road again

While the jury’s still out on whether a fifth wave will put paid to all its efforts, the South African travel industry is hard at work with measures to get back on track.

Creating a new avenue of exploration for travel between Durban and Harare can only help in these endeavours and also serves to expand on continuing African co-operation and independence from traditional Eurasian and North American markets. – SA Airlines     

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