State-owned charter carrier Falcon Air (Zimbabwe) (Harare Charles Prince) has introduced flights to Hwange National Park, located in northwestern Zimbabwe, in line with a new partnership agreement between its shareholder representative, the District Development Fund (DDF), and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).

This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two state-owned entities recently under which terms Falcon Air will provide connectivity into Hwange National Park and launch holiday packages to Hwange, other national parks, and remote holiday resorts, the ZTA announced in a statement, hailing it as a “significant milestone” in the development of the country’s tourism sector.

The agreement, also involving the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), commits all parties to collaborate in order to introduce similar services and holiday packages to other Zimbabwean tourist resorts in an effort to kick-start domestic tourism, according to ZW News. It aims to boost a “ZimBho” domestic tourism campaign and complement the services of national carrier Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare Int'l) and other domestic air carriers to improve connectivity.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Hwange last week, Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and the Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndhlovu, said the partnership was in line with Zimbabwe’s national tourism recovery and growth strategy launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at Victoria Falls in August 2020, which is aimed at reviving the COVID-19 ravaged tourism sector. Ndhlovu challenged the tourism industry to develop, improve, and diversify tourism products. He added the government would continue to promote incentives designed to attract more investments in the tourism sector, reports The Chronicle newspaper.

“This new Falcon Air service to Hwange National Park and its planned expansion into other national parks and other tourism destinations which have hitherto not been connected will go a long way towards amplifying all our efforts towards tourism infrastructure development and maintenance and improving destination access in Zimbabwe,” said Ndlovu.

DFF Permanent Secretary, James Jonga, in a speech read on his behalf, said the DDF manages 72 airstrips countrywide.

Falcon Air – a strategic business unit of the DDF - would use its fleet of four 12-seater Reims-Cessna (twin turboprop) F406 Caravan IIs for the flights, of which two are active and two are being serviced, The Chronicle reports.

Established more than two decades ago and based at Harare Charles Prince, about 19 km north-west from the capital Harare, the charter carrier also operates one four-seater Cessna (single piston) 182 Skylane and one seven-seater Cessna 207 Super Skywagon, according to its website. It serves domestic destinations within the Zambezi region including Victoria Falls, Hwange, Binga, Kariba, Mana Pools, and Kanyemba. Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, Falcon Air flies to Masvingo, Beitbridge, Buffalo Range, Bulawayo, River Ranch, and Lupane.

Until this development, only Executive Air (LFL, Harare Charles Prince) and Central Air Transport Services (Harare Charles Prince) offered regular charter flights to the country's more isolated towns and national parks.