The objective of increasing aviation sector growth on the Africa continent was taken a step closer today (Monday, October 16) when independent regional airline, Airlink, opened country offices in Gaborone and Lusaka to enhance customer services in Botswana and Zambia.
Increased intra-Africa travel is high on the agenda for the continent’s policy-makers to ensure economic growth and job-creation under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and improved air connectivity is vital in driving that.
This was highlighted during several panel discussions at the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum 2023 held in Gaborone, Botswana, earlier this month (October), with Millvest Advisory Services CEO, Miller Matola, noting that air access was critical to ensuring successful tourism growth to a destination.
This was echoed by CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and Interim Chair of the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, in a recent op-ed piece for Tourism Update.
He wrote: “Aviation is not simply about covering distances; it's about bridging economic gaps. In Africa, where air travel accounts for just 2% of global market, the potential for aviation to transform economies is immense. Iata estimates that a 10% increase in air connectivity can boost a country’s GDP by 0.5%.”
Each additional daily flight between two trading partners increases bilateral trade by 8-15%. At least 55% of international tourists now travel to their destinations by air.”
Furthermore, an Iata survey found that if 12 African countries improved connectivity, they would create 155 000 new jobs and generate $1.3 billion in annual GDP.
Local industry support
Airlink provides direct customer and local travel industry support, with flight reservations, ticketing, and special services assistance.
“Botswana and Zambia are both important and vibrant markets for Airlink, which provides crucial connectivity for people travelling for business and leisure. As international long-haul tourism recovers, we are also seeing strong demand for travel on our services to Maun, the Okavango Delta and Livingstone (on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls),” said Airlink CEO and MD, Rodger Foster.
“Business travel is also picking up with increased trade and other commercial activity in those markets. Our new Gaborone and Lusaka city offices will enable us to have closer, more direct contact with our customers and the trade as these markets continue to grow. We have deliberately located the offices for maximum customer convenience, saving them the time, trouble and expense of having to go to the ticketing offices at those cities’ airports.”
The Lusaka office is staffed by a team of three, while the Gaborone team comprises two staff and Airlink’s Country Manager.
Airlink operates up to 40 return flights a week to Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola in Zambia and up to 50 return flights a week to Gaborone, Maun and Kasane in Botswana.