The new look multi-million dollar Victoria Falls International Airport, currently undergoing a Chinese-funded upgrade, will miss this month’s completion deadline, a source familiar with the project said, although government remains hopeful that it can still be commissioned this year.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) initiated the $150 million airport expansion project in February 2013 to boost its aircraft handling capacity and tourism in Victoria Falls and expected the all the project works to be completed by next month.
“We will miss September deadline but details will be clear next week on Monday when management from Harare will come for a meeting with stakeholders,” a source said yesterday.
Last year the contractor, China Jiangsu, requested an extension, first to June and later to September this year.
Initially, the international terminal building was scheduled for a November 2014 completion while the new four kilometre runway was scheduled for completion last December.
None of them are complete with work still ongoing on the three storey structure, resurfacing the old parking area and clearing outside parking area. Construction of the control tower and fire station is still underway.
The project also involves upgrading of the domestic terminal building, construction of a new water plant and installation of state –of–the art aviation equipment. The aircraft parking area is being extended to allow parking of five wide body aircraft at any given time.
However, tourism minister Walter Mzembi who was in the resort town on Tuesday, said the facility was still within its completion timeframe.
“I am hopeful the airport is still within its completion timeframe. Remember there is a lot of work going on and this facility will be a game changer. As a ministry we are also doing something parallel as we are inviting airlines because we hope the airport will be commissioned before year-end,” he said.
The new-look airport would handle more than 1.7 million passengers annually, up from the current 500 000 and would process wide-bodied aircraft.
The expansion is being funded by China Exim Bank.
Airlines currently using the airport are Air Zimbabwe, Fly Africa, South Africa Airways, Comair and Air Namibia.-The Source