In an exclusive interview in Harare Muhammed Riza, the Manager Commercial Business Development for Africa said he had held some meetings with members from the Horticultural Promotion Council (HPC) to see how they could work together with his airline which officially began services into Harare.
The airline made its maiden flight into Harare International Airport on Wednesday.
“We have held several meetings with growers and we think we can help send their produce to Europe and all over the world since we service many routes,” Riza said in Harare.
“I understand they have been facing problems because the only airline which used to service them stopped operating and we can fill in this gap.”
Affretair (Private) Limited, which used to send Zimbabwe’s horticulture produce to Europe, stopped operating in the country due to a serious cash crisis as well as failure to survive a huge debt.
Zimbabwe’s only airline, Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited has also failed to service the horticulture sector because it does not have sufficient aircraft in Zimbabwe.
It is reliably understood that Air Zimbabwe only has one airplane which was impounded in London in the United Kingdom after the company had failed to pay landing rights.
Riza said the addition of flights to the capitals of Zambia and Zimbabwe came less than three months after the launch of a dedicated weekly freighter to Accra, Ghana and Lome and meant that Emirates SkyCargo now had a total annual capacity of more than 300 000 tonnes.
He said many regions were experiencing challenging economic conditions but it seemed Africa, with a population of more than one billion and righ in natural resources, was one of the few areas to record growth and the long-term outlook was “very positive indeed”.
“The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare service will be operated five times weekly by an A330-200, providing a total weekly cargo capacity of up to 160 tonnes,” Riza said.
“South Africa – with a weekly capacity of more than 1 500 tonnes spread across the belly-hold of 84 passenger flights serving Johhanesburg, Cape Town and Durban, as well as two dedicated Johannesburg freighters – is Emirates SkyCargo’s key trading point on the continent.”
He said Zimbabwe had a huge horticulture sector which however desperately needs to get its produce to the world and not to Europe only as is the case presently.
“We see great potential and we will be making definite plans with the growers and the HPC soon,” Riza said in the interview.