Fastjet airline last week made its inaugural landing at the Maun International Airport to launch its new route between Victoria Falls and the tourism capital (Maun), marking a significant boost for the tourism industry.
Maun becomes the fourth destination that the airline has connected Victoria Falls to after Harare, Johannesburg and (Nelspruit) Kruger Mpumalanga. FastJet will be operating scheduled flights between Victoria Falls and Maun four times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Fastjet flight FN8901 received a ceremonial water cannon salute which is traditionally used to launch a new airline service, honour veteran captains and retiring airlines among other things.
The airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Vivian Ruwuya said the landing of FN8901 from Victoria Falls to Maun signalled the dawn of a new era in the tourism development and air connectivity in the region.
She said the flight was the first within the KAZA Transfontier Conservation Area, connecting two unique and breathtaking destinations. Ruwuya added that the new Maun service will provide unprecedented value and convenience to tourists exploring the beautiful KAZA region.
“Tourism is a low hanging fruit in the development of our economies and our destinations. We hope that this new route, will be a catalyst in the encouragement of tourism collaboration between Victoria Falls and Maun,” Ruwuya expressed hope.
She highlighted that despite Botswana and Zimbabwe being landlocked, the two countries however boast of unique water-based attractions being the Victoria Falls and the iconic Okavango Delta.
To ensure sustainable growth of the route, Ruwuya revealed that they are going to operate the service using their Embraer ERJ and Cessna Grand Caravan B aircraft.
For his part, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) CEO, Dr Bao Mosinyi said it is pleasing to see regional airlines launching in Botswana especially at the time when the industry is recovery to the pre Covid-19 era. According to him, the traffic in local airspace during the pandemic went down by about 96%.
“That’s what makes me more excited to see a Fastjet coming into Botswana than necessarily having a big airline coming in, even though we still want those but I believe regional growth is what is going to change our continent,” Mosinyi stressed.
Meanwhile, Mosinyi highlighted the need not only to expand routes but also for airlines to be able to work together starting at regional level. He expressed hope that the Fastjet story is going to be an inspiration to all of them going forward highlighting that the airline is already in collaboration with Air Botswana.
“For that I want to thank Fastjet because this is the right approach that we want to encourage,” he commended.
He concluded that the idea behind the face-lifting of the Maun International Airport terminal was to encourage for such developments as well as getting more airlines flying into Maun and developing the tourism capital into an aviation hub it ought to be.