AIRPORT TAX TO GO UP
AIR transport passengers should brace for an increase in departure fees effective January 2017 as the Government seeks alternative funding to develop aviation infrastructure in the country, a Cabinet Minister said.
With Zimbabwe viewed as a high cost country in terms of doing business, economic observers say the move might have a negative effect on prospects of increased tourist arrivals.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo announced the proposal to increase departure levy on Friday during the commissioning of the new look Victoria Falls International Airport by President Mugabe.
“Due to budget constraints, my ministry is pursing alternating and innovative funding modalities to ensure that our plans come to reality. It is in this context that I appeal to air transport travellers to expect a very modest increase on the airport departure tax starting January 1, 2017 that is very good indeed; we need the fund to keep up this momentum,” said Dr Gumbo.
Currently the passenger service charge is pegged at $10 for domestic departure and $35 for international departure passengers. Another charge, the Aviation Infrastructure Development Fund (AIDEF) is pegged at $5 for domestic departure and $15 for international departure. In total domestic passengers pay $15 with international travellers parting with $50. Air transport fees were introduced in 2014 when travellers were required to pay tax directly to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) at its offices in Harare, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, Victoria Falls and Kariba Airports.
Surveys have shown that numerous regulatory costs and taxes were having a crippling effect on businesses with experts calling for reduction of such costs to promote growth.
Dr Gumbo said his ministry was working on its airport development master plan, which he said would be shared with the rest of Government soon.
“We remain conscious of the need for us to fulfil our role as the facilitator and enabler and pledge to execute that mandate to the best of our ability,” he said.
The minister said the commissioning of the Victoria Falls International Airport was one of the anchor projects under the infrastructure and utilities cluster of ZimAsset.
The scope of the work carried out included a 4km run way, new international terminal building, fire station, control tower, installation of state-of-the-art specialised aviation equipment and upgrading of current the old airport wing into a domestic terminal wing. Dr Gumbo said the contractor, China Jiangsu International, did a commendable job of constructing “this elegant and imposing structure that meets international standards”.
He said Zimbabwe was proud of this accomplishment and paid tribute to China, which availed the $150 million concessionary loan to the country for the project.
Dr Gumbo said the strategic plan for his ministry for the period 2014 to 2018 puts the aviation sector as a priority in line with ZimAsset targets.
He also paid tribute to his predecessors Dr Obert Mpofu and Nicholas Goche for their contribution in the initial stages of the project.
The Victoria Falls International Airport is the third to be commissioned within the Zim-Asset programme, after JMN Nkomo for Matabeleland region. JMN was commissioned on December 22, 2013 and was followed by Buffalo Range Airport on November 27, 2015 following support received from Tongaat Hulett and Malilangwe Trust.
Dr Joram Gumbo