Foreign airlines avoid Zimbabwe airspace

The state-run Department of Meteorological Services automatic equipment at Zimbabwe’s airports is antiquated and cannot issue the mandatory and crucial minute-by-minute information to aircraft flying over our airspace, met office acting-director Morris Sahanga was quoted as saying in the government-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper.

‘Aircraft depend on these weather updates, and so they are bypassing our airspace because we can’t provide that information,’ he said.

Zimbabwe lies directly on the major route of airlines travelling between Europe and South Africa, but aircraft now fly over countries to the west of Zimbabwe or over the Mozambique channel to the east, he said.

The met office needed 2 million US dollars to upgrade its equipment, but received only 300,000 from President Robert Mugabe’s effectively bankrupt government, said Sahanga.

‘The expertise is there, but we lack the equipment,’ he said. ‘We would have wanted to install the new equipment before 2010 and trial- run it.’

Zimbabwe has been hoping for a spillover of tourists flying into neighbouring South Africa for football’s World Cup finals next year.

‘Unless we address this anomaly we may not get any new airlines landing at our airports,’ said Sahanga. ‘How do we attract tourists?’

Zimbabwe holds major tourism attractions, including the Victoria Falls, the worlds largest waterfall, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. dpa

About 20 international airlines from around the world used to fly into Harare, but now Air Zimbabwe, the state-owned national airline, is the only carrier that flies direct from here to major international destinations. Only about four African airlines fly into Harare on regional routes.

A space reserved in daily newspapers for weather bulletins mostly states that the weather report was not available from the Meteorological Office.