Acting President John Landa Nkomo last night lauded the bilateral ties between Zimbabwe and Zambia saying they are set to strengthen following the introduction of a flight between Lusaka and Harare starting today.
Speaking at the launch of the Lusaka- Harare route by Zambezi Airlines, the Acting President said the strong and cordial relations of the two countries was evidenced by the presence of Zambian founding President Dr Kenneth Kaunda who touched down at 1700hours aboard Zambezi Airline for the event.
“The journey for Dr Kaunda has been very long, but eventful. For Zambezi Airline, I say you have done us and Dr KK proud because this is the environment he wanted created. We in Zimbabwe join our Zambian counterparts in celebrating the efforts by the airline,” said Acting President Nkomo.
He said the bilateral relations between the two had stood the test of time.
“When the whiteman came, he could not even distinguish between a Tonga person from the two countries (Zimbabwe and Zambia),” he said.
Dr Kaunda hailed Zambezi Airline, saying the launch was historic in that it enhanced trade between the two countries.
“The occasion is truly historic. The route will facilitate travel and enhance trade between people of our countries. It will facilitate people to people interaction as well as boost tourism for the two countries,” said Dr Kaunda.
His speech was prefaced by singing of revolutionary songs and HIV and AIDS songs.
He said the introduction of the route was consistent with the spirit of the Abuja Declaration signed in 1981 during an Organisation of African Unity summit, which sought to enhance cooperation among member countries.
“This can only be realised through enhanced communication including air travel. There can be no doubt that enhanced regional cooperation can achieve what was envisaged in the Abuja Declaration,” he said.
Zambezi Airline board chairperson, Dr Maurice Jangulo, said his airline would soon enter into code-sharing discussions with Air Zimbabwe. “We are now at an advanced stage with Air Zimbabwe on code-sharing on regional routes and international routes. I also want to thank our two governments for creating an enabling environment for our business,” he said.
Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche and his permanent secretary, Mr Partson Mbiriri witnessed the event.
Zambezi Airline commenced operations as a domestic carrier on July 15 2008, servicing the main Zambian cities and towns of Ndola, Kitwe, Livingstone, Solwezi and Chipata with a 30 seater aircraft.
It then went regional, the first flight being the Lusaka–Johannesburg route in May 2009 and built a reputation for excellent in-flight service. This was after it leased two Boeing 737–300 series aircraft from GE Commercial Aviation Service.
Configured for 12 Premier Business class and 99 Economy class seating, the airline’s aircraft are powered by new technology, fuel-efficient engines that also offer passengers a quieter cabin.
THE HERALD OF ZIMBABWE