On Thursday 22nd May, The Airport Manager, Mr Ronnie Masawi invited members of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe to a guided tour and site inspection of the new terminal at Victoria Falls International Airport.
The construction of the new terminal is well underway, with the 3rd and final floor of the terminal building, as well as the new 4km (60m wide) runway already nearing the final stages of construction. The runway is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014, when it will be opened in order to make provisions for the upgrading of the current runway (which will be turned into a taxi-way) as well as the extension of the current apron to out in-front of the new terminal building. The new terminal is set to open in June/July of 2015.
The refurbishment and upgrade of Vic Falls International will see the airport, as a facility, upgraded to a ‘Category 2’ airport, which means that it is a very modern airport when it comes to the navigational and safety facilities that it will offer, including an ILS (Instrument Landing System) which will enable pilots to land in either direction in periods of low visibility. Dubai International Airport is also a ‘category 2’ airport. The upgrade involves the construction of a new fire station as well as an entirely new water management infrastructure, including a new 8000m3 reservoir.
The new runway will be able to accommodate all wide-bodied aircraft, up to and including the Airbus A380 Superjumbo – however, as Mr Masawi explained to the visiting group, this does not mean that the terminal building is equipped to accommodate an A380 when it comes to ground handling logistics such as catering and baggage handling. No mention was made as to which airlines are confirmed to have new services scheduled into Victoria Falls once the new terminal building is operational.
There will be 12 customs & immigration desks in the new terminal, which is very welcome news, and is sure to relieve the pressure from the mere two that exist in the current terminal building. The current terminal will also undergo a refurbishment, and will then become a fully-fledged domestic terminal. Mr Masawi also indicated that part of the new domestic terminal upgrade will include the construction of a baggage carousel – (There will be three carousels in the arrivals hall of the new terminal). The new terminal will accommodate up to 1.2 million passengers per annum, and the domestic terminal up to 800,000.
Part of the design of the new terminal will include a large circular patio area (in-permissible, enclosed with glass) which will separate the check-in area from baggage collection section on the ground floor, as well as allow ample natural light to fall into the terminal. As is the case with most modern airports, there are no plans to include a smoking lounge or viewing platform.
Mr Ronnie Masawi and his group of contractors and engineers seem to be running a tight ship, and appear to be sticking to their schedule. The construction site of both the terminal and the runway are in a neat and tidy condition, and the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe would like to commend all those involved on what appears to be a massive project, and one that is being handled and conducted in a most professional manner.
From the May Wild Horizons Newsletter.