CAAZ seeks aviation fees hike
THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) says it has approached government to double fees collected from passengers for the Aviation Infrastructure Development Fund. This is in order to meet the US$400 million the authority wants to raise by the end of 2022.
CAAZ said subdued business at airports, which are operating at about 30 percent of installed capacity, has led to its failure to achieve a targeted annual collection rate of US$40 million, which was expected to fund development projects.
The fund was established in 2012 to bankroll the development of aviation infrastructure in Zimbabwe, where CAAZ is responsible for the administration of several airports, including the Harare International Airport, the Joshua Nkomo International Airport, the Victoria Falls International Airport, Buffalo Range Airport, Kariba Airport and other smaller airports.
It is expected to have achieved its targets by 2022.
Auditor general, Mildred Chiri, said CAAZ collected about US$7 million for the fund in 2013, and at this rate, it could take up to 57 years for the authority to collect the US$400 million.
She said CAAZ should take steps to ensure that it increases collections to meet its targets.
“The Aviation Infrastructure Development Fund was established to collect a total of US$400 million over a 10-year period from the year 2012 to 2022,” Chiri said in a report covering the year 2013 released last week.
“My audit revealed that the fund had raised a total of US$7 million for the year ended December 31, 2013 against an annual target of US$40 million. At this rate, it will take 57 years to raise the required amount,” she added.
In response CAAZ said it had submitted its request to hike the fees, which are collected at US$15 per passenger on international destinations and US$5 for passengers travelling on domestic routes.
If approved, the rates will double.
“Management has submitted a request to the Ministry to seek approval to increase the rate per passenger from the current US$15 for international and US$5 domestic to US$30 and US$10 respectively,” said CAAZ.
“However, the total (amount of money) collected at the end of the 10-year period will largely depend on the business performance which is driven by the passenger movement. The authority is therefore doing its best to market its products to attract more airlines to come into Zimbabwe,” it added.
A number of projects including the US$150 million expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport, which is due for completion in December this year, have been lined up by the authority, and these are expected to improve passenger numbers flying into Zimbabwe.
However, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi, told an investment conference in Johannesburg last week that the airport would be commissioned in September.
The airport, situated in the resort town of Victoria Falls, is one of the region’s busiest airports situated outside big cities as tourists fly to tour the global wonder.
Its current size, however, does not allow it to accommodate bigger aircraft, and Zimbabwe has been expanding the runway to make sure that long haul planes can fly directly into the resort town.
“The US$150 million Victoria Falls Airport Development project is expected to be a game changer,” said CAAZ.
“The project is expected to be complete by December 31, 2015 and is expected to make Victoria Falls a tourism hub as all types of aircrafts will be able to land at the airport. We expected an increase in business after the completion of the four kilometre runway and the new terminal building with its associated state-of-the-art systems. A marketing plan has been developed. The government is also working on a plan to bring direct flights from China,” said CAAZ.
However, the hike in the Aviation Infrastructure Development Fund could lead to corresponding adjustments to fares for passengers travelling on both the domestic and international routes.