The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has identified growing regional competition and aged infrastructure as part of the factors deterring the aviation industry's envisaged growth and development in the country.
The aviation industry has lately been on the downtrend attributable to a number of factors particularly those associated with the country's negative image.
Likewise, in recent times the industry has been making waves for the wrong reasons mainly failure to repatriate funds to international airlines, adding on to hitches that are weighing down the sector from proficiently discharging its duties.
Absence of a strong national flag carrier has also negatively impacted on the performance of the local air travel industry.
CAAZ acting director general Margaret Mantiziba recently told delegates at a meeting organised by the authority that upgraded infrastructure in regional airports and better destination image was taking a toll on the local aviation industry. She called for collaborative efforts in turning the country's dented perception into an attractive one.
She said the local aviation industry's inability to attract more business was considerably contributing to inability to finance intended developmental projects to sustain the business and remain relevant to the ever evolving trends in the sector.
"There is a growing regional competition, everyone around us is improving, their airports have been built all around us. Zambia is finishing, Mozambique finished theirs, Botswana did and everyone wants to attract visitors to their nations so that's competition. We have to deal with it as a nation.
"There has been sustained negative publicity on the image of the country in terms of destination attractiveness. Each time bad stories come up, a few more people cancel their flights. We are praying that as a nation we begin to have positive destination image that we so desire and we have been working flat out to make sure that there is an appreciation of who we really are.
"We also have aged infrastructure. The infrastructure has suffered from the economic challenges and as a result we end up having limited capacity to finance new infrastructure projects that would make our industry more attractive. That does not just affect us as CAAZ alone but the whole industry," Mrs Mantiziba said.
Skills flight also present a major hiccup to the already strained sector, with Mrs Mantiziba saying the country's capacity to retain such skills was wearing by the day as the sector remains under siege.
"There has been failure to retain and attract new skills, if you go anywhere in the world you will find Zimbabweans working there. Many airlines are now relying on Zimbabwean technicians, engineers and that has also put a dent on the development and growth of the aviation industry," she said.
As it stands the aviation industry in Zimbabwe does not have a healthy national airline and has two international airlines, British Airways Comair and Emirates Airlines, nine airlines from the region including Ethiopian, Kenya, South African Airways and Airlink, Malawi, Angola, Rwanda, Tanzania and Air Namibia, while Air Zimbabwe and fastjet are the domestic airlines.