QATAR Airways, one of the Five Star Airlines in the world, will commence flights between Doha and Lusaka during the first Quarter of 2017, Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL) has confirmed.
ZACL managing director, Mr Robinson Misitala said the commencement of the Qatar Airways flights would help realize the strategic objective of turning Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) into a regional hub, as Lusaka presents characteristics of a natural hub due to its centrality.
Mr Misitala said the development was a step in the right direction as it comes in the wake of massive infrastructure development currently being undertaken by the Government at Kenneth Kaunda, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and Mfuwe International Airports.
He said in order to sustain these developments, there was need to stimulate demand through introduction of new airline routes and operators.
Mr. Misitala further indicated that commencement of Qatar Airways flights would create an alternative option for connection through the Middle East which would ease network connectivity beyond Doha and open new opportunities in tourism and export potential.
“This also provides the Zambian traveler with a wider choice of travel options and indeed increased capacity to support both passenger travel and cargo movement.”
“Our expectation as Zambia Airports Corporation Limited is that we will tap into a new market exclusive to Qatar Airways in terms of holiday which will entail growth in our traffic numbers,” Mr. Misitala said.
He said ZACL expected the Zambian business entities would take advantage of the new market and explore new export markets especially from an agricultural product perspective.
He said the airline would start by operating three weekly flights using the 254 seater Dreamliner (B787) direct between Doha and Lusaka.
“They are in the process of confirming slot allocations with the relevant authorities in Doha after which the airline schedule will be communicated,” Mr Misitala said. He said the Zambia Airports Corporation Limited was happy to state that the continued interest in Zambia by various airlines was a testimony of the growth potential it had. Mr. Misitala implored all stakeholders to play their part in the continued development of the aviation industry and its related industries and consequently contribute positively to the growth of the Zambian economy.
Meanwhile, Mr. Misitala said ZACL was still in discussions with Fastjet Airlines and Turkish Airlines who have also expressed interest in Zambia.