from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS – THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is bearing the brunt of the suspension of Comair, the operator of British Airways, by the South African government.
CAJ News Africa can reveal that a conference organized by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for the bloc suffered a setback when some delegates that were stuck in South Africa eventually cancelled their trips for the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Only delegates from Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) joined their counterparts in Zimbabwe as scores from the 15-SADC member bloc were stranded in South Africa.
The IOM event is a week-long workshop on capacity development initiative on ethical recruitment in the Southern African region.
IOM is holding the event in partnership with Southern African Migration Management, Africa Regional Migration Programme with funding from European Union (EU) and the United States (US).
“Airlines cancellations are affecting all facets of the economy. Some delegates are stuck in South Africa after British Airways cancelled some flights. Efforts are being made to reconnect them,” said Langton Ngorima, a director in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in Zimbabwe.
He was addressing delegates at the meeting on Friday.
Tunde Omoyeni, IOM Regional Project Coordinator for Southern Africa, eventually addressed virtually from South Africa after failing to travel.
He was one of the key speakers, besides Zimbabwe’s Public Service Minister, Paul Mavima.
“We made a booking with BA a week ago but they suspended flights and there is no flight to Victoria Falls,” Omoyeni said.
“It’s been difficult for people wanting to travel and those wanting to attend our conference. So, we are trying to find alternative means to fly to Victoria Falls if this still helps,” he added.
Hotels are also counting their losses as they had aimed to make the most of the conference to enhance bookings.
Suspension of flights by Comair follows reduction of frequency by other airlines flying into Victoria Falls.
These include Ethiopian Airways and Kenyan Airways.
A majority of travelers into Victoria Falls come via South Africa, especially the Oliver Reginald Tambo International Airport.
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has suspended Comair over safety issues.
The regulator said in the past month, Comair had experienced safety problems ranging from “engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions, amongst others.
The airline has apologised to clients, saying flights will remain affected until “we have certainty regarding the reinstatement of our operating licence.”
– CAJ News