Dubai’s international carrier Emirates Airline would from next month add more than 1 600 seats a week on its busy Lusaka and Harare routes, it said on Friday.

The move has been inspired by the fact that since February last year, more than 55 000 passengers have travelled with Emirates on this route. This means demand for the carrier’s services has surged.

The Zambian government has been very supportive of any carriers that plan to serve Lusaka and Livingstone.

The government has a clear strategy for the further economic development of the country and they see international air services as a key driver of economic growth.

The loss-making Zambia’s national airline, Zambia Airways, was liquidated in 1995. And the privately-operated Zambian Airways also failed to assume the role of national flag carrier.

Zambian Airways had expressed its intentions to operate as the nation’s flagship carrier. But the 2008 global economic crisis could not spare the airliner’s accounts and it too collapsed on 10 January, 2009.

On the other hand, there are so many contradictory stories coming out of Zimbabwe nowadays that it is sometimes difficult for people in the diaspora to get an exact picture of life in Zimbabwe.

There was a report in The Standard recently that said Harare was in a ‘terrible mess’.

But at the same time it had been reported that there was a 16 percent surge in tourist numbers to the country at the beginning of the last quarter of last year.

Anyway, Emirates said it would introduce a Boeing 777-300ER on its daily flight from Dubai starting on February 1.

According to a statement released by Emirates, a 354-seat Boeing 777-300ER, the longest passenger aircraft ever to touch down in Lusaka and Harare, will replace a 237-seat Airbus A330-200 on the route – a capacity increase of more than 50 percent.

Jean Luc Grillet, Emirates’ senior vice president for Commercial Operations in Africa, said the services to these cities had come of age and with demand continuing to increase, this was the right time for the carrier to expanding its capacity.

“With the introduction of this larger aircraft, we will offer almost 5,000 seats total every week on the route between Dubai, Lusaka and Harare,” he said.

Emirates’ key destinations for Zambian and Zimbabwean travellers include Dubai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bombay

The Boeing 777-300ER is the backbone of the Emirates fleet, with 82 in service and a further 69 on order.

Since the route was launched, Emirates has also carried more than 5.000 tonnes of cargo on its Lusaka and Harare service.

The arrival of the larger aircraft will mean an increase in cargo carrying capacity of 22 percent per flight.

“Emirates constantly strive to deliver its passengers with the very best service. The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft forms the backbone of Emirates’ fleet, and its introduction on the Lusaka and Harare route reflects our commitment to quality,” added Grillet.


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