The airline, ranked sixth in the world in terms of international passengers carried in 2010, says travellers using the service would â€œconnect seamlessly to points across the Far and Middle East, Indian sub-continent, Europe and Australasia via the airlineâ€™s hub in Dubaiâ€�.
â€œStarting 1st February 2012, EK 713 will depart Dubai on every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 0925hrs, arriving in Lusaka at 1450hrs,â€� the airline said in a statement Thursday.
â€œThe service will depart Lusaka at 1620hrs, arriving in Harare at 1720hrs. The return flight leaves Harare at 1920hrs, arriving Lusaka at 2020hrs. It departs Lusaka at 2150hrs and lands in Dubai at 0710hrs the next day.â€�
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline Group said the new service would boost tourism and trade in both destinations.
â€œEmirates 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,â€� he said.
â€œZambia and Zimbabwe will be our 20th and 21st African destinations and their addition to our global network will enable us to provide new flexibility and choice for customers, help to grow trade routes and create important new inbound and outbound markets for tourism.â€�
The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) welcomed Emiratesâ€™ announcement and declared its readiness to provide â€œthe very bestâ€� facilities at the Harare International Airport.
â€œThe arrival of an airline of Emiratesâ€™ 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,â€� said CAAZ chief executive officer David Chawota.
â€œWe are extremely proud of the 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.â€�
The airline said it would be deploying one of its Airbus 330-200 aircraft on the route in a three-class configuration that offers â€œ12 luxurious First Class seats, 42 seats in Business Class and generous space for 183 passengers in Economy Class.â€�
The statement added: â€œCustomers in all cabins will enjoy meals prepared by gourmet chefs, award-winning service from the airlineâ€™s international cabin crew recruited from over 120 countries, as well as hundreds of channels of entertainment and the facility to send and receive emails and text messages.â€�
With a fleet of 157 aircraft and already the largest Airbus 380 operator in the world, Emirates currently flies to 114 destinations in 67 countries.
Emiratesâ€™ entry on the Zimbabwe market could spell trouble for the flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, which has been battling massive debt, strikes by pilots, old aircraft and reliability issues.
Passengers from one of Air Zimbabweâ€™s main markets, Britain, will be able to book flights on Emirates, connecting through Dubai.
Apart from Air Zimbabwe, Kenyan Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airways are the other airlines currently flying to Harare from London. Air Zimbabwe, however, remains the only airline offering direct flights.