BA deny plans to resume flights to Harare

LONDON – British Airways have denied claims by a Zimbabwean government official that they will resume direct flights from London to Harare next spring.

David Chaota, chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, said BA has agreed to restart flights to Harare in March or April 2010.

BA suspended flights to the Zimbabwean capital in October 2007 due to a sharp fall in demand triggered by the escalating political crisis in the country.

Despite the southern African nation becoming more stable since the formation of a new power-sharing government earlier this year, a BA spokesman has said the airline does not have any current plans to resume the Harare service.

British Airways pulled out of Zimbabwe two years ago, citing viability problems, but observers suspected it had been pressured by London, which opposed President Robert Mugabe’s government, to withdraw.

Chaota said the return of the airline would draw more tourists and airlines to Zimbabwe, which has been shunned for years over political instability.

"British Airways will be coming back next year between March and April, and that is why we have hope (of more tourists) in 2010. The coming back of BA may also bring in other airlines," he said.

Until it pulled out in 2007, British Airways had operated in Zimbabwe for close to 100 years.