Why I am excited about flying through Dubai or Why I am excited not to fly through OR Tambo in Jozi

by Andy Kozlov

I first read about it in South Africa’s Sunday Times. The news made my day.

Emirates Airlines, the largest airline in the Middle East, operating over 2,400 passenger flights per week, will fly to Harare via Lusaka from its Middle East hub in Dubai, starting February 2012. New services will increase Emirates’ African network to 21 destinations.

Looking for more details online did not give much satisfaction. A site called Exotic Dubai gave me more information but, so far, I have no way to check its reliability.

But even the page on the Emirates’ site has conflicting information. Their media player is captioned, “Emirates will serve Zambia and Zimbabwe with a daily flight from 9th January, 2012.” Whereas the first paragraph of the announcement reads:

Zambia and Zimbabwe will now be linked with a five times weekly flight from Dubai, starting from 1st February 2012.

In any case, I soon will be able to fly to Zimbabwe from Ukraine without having to go through all the turmoil of Johannesburg‘s OR Tambo with its recently introduced transit visa policy. According to it, one has to get a transit visa from the embassy (bye-bye one more passport page!) for the walk inside the airport from Arrivals to the departure terminal to get on your connecting flight. And this is without the right to step behind the South African passport control. They just put a booth in one of those dim corridors and tell you that need a visa for the 500-m walk. In a rather mild way, they tell you this – almost like those South Africa Tourism guys who roam around the terminal asking you about the ways the Rainbow Nation can improve it hospitality sector.

“The airport itself is a South African territory,” as a KwaZulu-Natal Tourism guy humbly explained to me at a recently ended Sanganai/Hlanganani expo in Harare. “Capito, capito!” – And this is exactly why I got so excited about flying through Dubai.

What follows is an abridged reprint from the airline’s official website with some additions from the Sunday Times piece by Simplicius Chirinda.

“Emirates has long understood the enormous potential of Africa, which today is one of the fastest-expanding economic regions of the world, benefitting from a combined market of over one billion people, rising consumer demand and an abundance of natural resources,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group.

“The arrival of an airline of Emirates’ stature will be very significant for Zimbabwe, increasing capacity, connectivity and choice as the country strives to consolidate its economic recovery through attracting new trade, tourism and investment,” said Mr. David Chawota, Chief Executive Officer, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. “We are extremely proud of the

Entering Harare International Airport.

facilities we have at Harare International Airport and look forward to providing the very best service to Emirates customers from around the world. We really appreciate the support of our Government in facilitating this development.”

The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare service will be operated by an A330-200 aircraft in a three-class configuration that offers 12 luxurious First Class seats, 42 seats in Business Class and generous space for 183 passengers in Economy Class.

A bellyhold capacity of 16 tonnes will support the import and export of a diverse range of commodities, such as machinery, clothing, computer parts, and pharmaceuticals. These goods will arrive from markets like the United Arab Emirates, South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Europe. Fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables will be exported – heading to destinations including Europe, China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Africa was one of only two continents to record economic growth during the recent global downturn and its growth rate is likely to exceed 5% this year, according to the Harvard Business Review.

With a collective GDP now roughly equal to that of Brazil or Russia, Relative Market Growth Index forecasts indicate that Africa’s combined revenue could grow by approximately $1 trillion by 2020.The number of households with discretionary income is projected to rise by 50% over the next 10 years.

This map by Axis Maps was produced for Open Skies Magazine, the in-flight magazine of Emirates Airlines. Unlike traditional flight maps, this map uses a Dymaxion projection for a unique perspective on the globe and groups flight lines together for a clearer view of fligh paths.

Starting 1st February 2012, EK 713 will depart Dubai on every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 09:25, arriving in Lusaka at 14:50. The service will depart Lusaka at 16:20, arriving in Harare at 17:20. The return flight leaves Harare at 19:20, arriving Lusaka at 20:20. It departs Lusaka at 21:50 and lands in Dubai at 07:10 the next day.

With a fleet of 157 aircraft and already the largest A380 operator in the world, Emirates currently flies to 114 destinations in 67 countries.

The airline’s international cabin crew is recruited from over 120 countries.

Services to Basra, Geneva and Copenhagen have already started this year. Flights to St. Petersburg begin on 1st November with Baghdad following suit as of 13th November. Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires become new links into South America from 3rd January 2012.

Emirates currently serves 19 passenger and cargo destinations across the African continent.

The company also operates three of the world’s ten longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.

According to the Sunday Times, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe is creating Africa’s largest runway at Harare International Airport to accommodate larger aircraft.

You can write to Andy Kozlov on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

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