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Travel Insight: Airports In Zimbabwe!

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Airports in Zimbabwe
Airports in Zimbabwe

What is an airport?

An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. It has a landing area (accessible open space with an operationally active surface/runway for a plane to take of/ landing). It often has adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals, to maintain and monitor aircraft. Larger airports have airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities (restaurants and lounges) and emergency services. In some countries, airports typically have one or more fixed-base operators, serving general aviation.

Types of airports.

An international airport is a big airport that has additional facilities for customs and passport control. Such airports rank among the most complex and largest of all built typologies.

A seaplane base is an airport for use by seaplanes and  amphibious aircraft. Such a base typically contains a stretch of open water for takeoffs and landings, and seaplane docks for tying-up.

A heliport is a small airport suitable for use by helicopters and various types of vertical lift aircraft. Designated heliports have one or more touchdown and liftoff areas and limited facilities such as fuel or hangars.

Airports in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is served by eight airports. Three are international airports, namely: Robert Mugabe International Airport, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and the Victoria Falls International Airport. Smaller airports include: Kariba Airport, Hwange Airport, Masvingo Airport, Charles Prince Airport and the Buffalo Range Airport. The international airports welcome arriving passengers from every continent via a range of carriers. Smaller airports have the mandate of ensuring that visitors reach many of the country’s tourist destinations. The Airport Company of Zimbabwe (A.C.Z.) in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) controls all aviation.

Robert Mugabe International Airport.

Originally known as Harare International Airport and Salisbury Airport. The name change in 2017 was to honor the late former president, His Excellency Cde Robert Mugabe. It is the largest airport in the country, located 15 km south of the Harare City. It’s runway is 4,725m-long and 46m-wide. Air Zimbabwe, the national flag carrier has its base there. It was commissioned in 1956, and officially opened on 5 February 1957. It is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. The structure boasts a wide range of passenger facilities, namely: restaurants, duty-free shops and car rental agencies.

Air Zimbabwe, has maintained the status quo with its head office located at the airport as well. Civil aviation regulatory authority, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe have offices on level 3 of the new International Terminal. 15 regional airlines use the airport. Air Zimbabwe, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, RwandAir, Kenya Airways, Air Namibia, Proflight Zambia, Fast-jet Zimbabwe, Airlink, Eswatini Airways, Air Tanzania, FlySAfair, LAM Mozambique Airlines, Malawian Airlines and TAAG Angola. Only two non-African airlines operate and these are Fly Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Joshua Nkomo International Airport

Originally known as Bulawayo International Airport, it was renamed in 2001 in honor of the late Dr. Joshua Nkomo. It is located 25 km outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. it was established in 1959 as a gateway to Zimbabwe’s second largest city, giving the tourists access to the popular heritage sites of Khami National Monument and Matobo Hills. It has two runways: Runway 13 (2,588m-long and 45m-wide) and Runway 31 (1,347m-long and 30m-wide).

The airport operates 16 hours a day, with immigration and customs services available during operating hours. The offered airport facilities include aircraft parking, cargo and passenger handling. Additional facilities include dining, shopping, accommodation, banking, car parking, car rentals and shuttle services. The new terminal of Joshua Nkomo International Airport was opened on November 2013. It holds up to 1.2 million passengers per year. Only four airlines operate there, namely: Air Zimbabwe, Airlink, Ethiopian Airlines and Fast-jet Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls International Airport

The international airport serving the Victoria Falls tourism industry by handling long distance flights from the Americas, Asia and Europe. It is located 18 km south of the Victoria Falls CBD, giving direct access to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The airport occupies an area of approximately 500ha and started operations in 1966 as a regional airport. In April 2013, Chinese proposed to fund the expansion of the structure building the new runway, taxiways and terminal to increase the airport’s capacity from 500,000 to 1.7 million passengers annually. The airport is now capable of landing some of the world’s largest aircraft. It was officially opened on November 18, 2016 as an international airport, the third in the country. It’s runway is 4,000m-long and 60m-wide, which can accommodate some of the world’s largest jets. The old runway currently serves as a taxiway.

The airport operates 12 hours per day, with immigration and customs services available. It has 2 main buildings or terminals. It also offers facilities and services including aircraft parking, cargo and passenger handling, refueling, weather information, restaurants, duty-free shops, and banking facilities. The airport has shuttle services to hotels and other places in town. There is a variety of tour operators and car rentals. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has an office stationed on the premises to assist travelers. There are nine airlines operating from there, namely: Air Zimbabwe, Airbus Transport International, Airlink, CemAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Fastjet Zimbabwe, Kenya Airways, Safair and South African Airways.

Kariba Airport

Kariba Airport is in the northern Zimbabwe near the Kariba Dam, the outlet of Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake.  It is located 4 km east of the town, and 13 km east of the Kariba Dam. It has a 1650m-long and  18m-wide runway. The Kariba non-directional beacon is 6.7 km west of the runway. It opened in November 1958 after the then Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) had provided telecommunications, fire and rescue equipment and other essential facilities and services.

The airport operates eleven hours (0700 – 1800) daily, handling domestic charter flights from Kariba town to Harare and Victoria Falls. It is mostly for small private operators. Most travelers entering Zimbabwe via Kariba Airport are attracted by the town’s wide range of activities, including game drives, fishing trips and boat cruises.

Only one airline operates domestic flights from there: Fastjet Zimbabwe, however, Air Zimbabwe is on a mission of commencing operations soon.

Hwange National Park Airport

Hwange National Park Airport is a domestic airport located in Matebeleland North Province offering domestic charter flights. Adjacent to the town of Hwange, the airport is situated at the entrance of Hwange National Park which is its main port of business. It offers domestic charter flights and private air shuttle services. It is located 8km off the 265km peg of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway along the road to Hwange Main Camp, 75km away from Hwange Town, 60km from Hwange Colliery and 190km from Victoria Falls.

The airport began operations in 1971 after two years of construction and have been open to public use as a gateway to the park ever since. It is surrounded by various comfortable lodges where travelers can rest after their flight before exploring the park. The major lodges are: Hwange Safari Lodge (3,5km away), and Ganda Lodge (6km away). It has a small terminal building that offers basic facilities from everything you need to make your trip smooth and stress-free, including efficient services, parking facilities, car rental services and helpful staff. The passenger terminal building has a capacity of handling up to 250 passengers per peak hour. Its runway is 4600m-long and 30m-wide with a capacity to handle a Boeing 737-200 aircraft or equivalent. Only one airline operates domestic flights from there: Fastjet Zimbabwe, however, Air Zimbabwe is on a mission of commencing operations soon.

Masvingo Airport

Masvingo airport is located 4km east of Masvingo town in the souther-most part of Zimbabwe. It gives access to Masvingo itself as well as Lake Mutirikwi, Kyle Recreational Park and the Great Zimbabwe National Monument in Masvingo Province. It is mainly used for small chartered aircraft or by military aircraft. Passengers consist mainly of residents of Masvingo, tourists, and mining operations personnel. The airport is also home to the Airforce of Zimbabwe and medical rescue operations.

It has two terminals, one for domestic flights and the other for international flights. The domestic terminal is smaller and less busy than the international. It also has two runways that can accommodate light and medium sized aircraft, namely: Runway 17 (1726m-long and 18m-wide paved by bitumen) and Runway 10 (1200m-long and 18m-wide unpaved grass) both 3km east of the city. The airport’s VOR-DME is located on the field, whilst the non-directional beacon is located 1100m off the threshold of runway 17. Only two airlines operate domestically from there: Fastjet Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe.

Charles Prince Airport

The Airport started operations in the early 1940s as a training base for Royal Airforce pilots and the Southern Rhodesian Airforce in the Second World War. The base, however, closed around 1948. In 1957 Mashonaland Flying Club (MFC) relocated to the then Mt Hampden airfield after approval from the then Department of Civil Aviation from the then Marlborough Airfield.

Charles Hilton Prince started working at this airfield in 1958 as an Air Traffic Controller and Airport Manager. Charles was an experienced Pilot, Chief Flying Instructor and first Civilian Air Traffic Controller and the first Airport Manager at Mt Hampden Airfield. He was at the airport from 1958 to 1973. In honor of his service as a much-respected pioneer of aviation, the Rhodesian government renamed Mt Hampden airfield Charles Prince after Charles Hilton Prince on 22 June 1978.

Charles Prince airport has 4 Runways (2 crossing strips) Runway 06, 24, 14 and 32. The reason for four runways was to make the runway in use favorable to the wind due to the different runway headings and there would be no problem with the crosswind. There is also convenience in handling aircraft emergency and there will be the ability to handle larger traffic volume thereby promoting safety. Only private and smaller charter flights opreate from there. These include Alba Jet, Fly Blade, Execair Zimbabwe, Private Fly Zimbabwe, Guthrie Aviation Zimbabwe, Fastjet Zimbabwe, Grand Air Charters, Central Air Transport Service, Airssist, and Flyaware.

Buffalo Range Airport

The airport serving the southeastern region of lowveld in Zimbabwe between the sugar towns of Triangle and Chiredzi in Masvingo Province, located 10km northwest of Chiredzi Town. It acts as a gateway to the country’s three main conservancies, namely: Save Valley, Malilangwe, and Bubiana as well as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park on the Zimbabwean side. Over the years, the facility has welcomed various international celebrities thanks to the popularity of the Gonarezhou National Park and the conservancies.

The airport has one runway, Runway 14 (1578m-long and 30m-wide) with a capacity to accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 737-700 executive series. The Chiredzi non-directional beacon is located 3.75 nautical miles (6.95 km) off the threshold of runway 14.

The Chiredzi or Buffalo Range non-directional beacon is located on the field. Three airlines have operations, namely: Air Zimbabwe, Fastjet Zimbabwe, and Halsted’s Aviation Corp.

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