Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport

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Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport
Airport typeJoint (Civil and Military)
OperatorCivil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe
ServesHarare, Zimbabwe
Hub forAir Zimbabwe
Elevation AMSL4,887 ft / 1,490 m
Direction Length Surface
ft m
05/23 15,500 4,725 Asphalt
Statistics (2009)

Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport formerly known as the Harare International Airport is Zimbabwe's biggest airport. It was renamed on 9 November 2017 in honor of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. [1]. It is located 15 km south of Harare's central business district and acts as the link between Harare and the outside world. It is the main gateway from the southern tip of the continent into the inner central part of Africa. The Harare International Airport is the major international aviation gateway to Zimbabwe. It is operated by Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and has a 4 725 meter long runway, one of the longest in Africa. Harare Airport serves a major base of Zimbabwe's national airline Air Zimbabwe. [2]


The then Salisbury International Airport was built at a cost of about £400 000. The airport terminal building was officially opened on 5 February 1957. The airport was opened five months after being first used by airline traffic. During the initial six months, Rhodesia’s Salisbury had the busiest airport in the Sub Saharan region due to the booming industry and agriculture which allowed regular inflow of people and outflow of goods. The airport had daily rates of about 12 arrivals and departures during this period.[3]


The airport connects the capital with other local airports in Zimbabwe. These include the Victoria Falls Airport in Matabeleland, the Joshua Nkomo Airport, Prince Charles Airport, Buffalo Range Airport in Mutare, Masvingo Airport, Kariba Airport and Hwange Airport among others. [4] Besides all domestic destinations, Air Zimbabwe offered international flights to London, Johannesburg, Beijing, Dubai, Singapore and Dar es Salaam. Harare International Airport was also served by many other airlines like Air Botswana, Air Malawi, Air Zambezi, Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways, Kenya Airways, South African Airways and TAAG Angola Airlines. [2]

Services and Facilities

For its visitors, the airport provided the following facilities;

  1. 24hr operation;
  2. Re-fuelling;
  3. Aircraft parking and aerodrome docking;
  4. Catering;
  5. Aircraft, passenger and cargo handling services;
  6. Fire and rescue services;
  7. shuttle buses;
  8. Wi-fi;
  9. Long term car park, short term car park,
  10. Banking, post office, shops and restaurants.
  11. Buty free shops
  12. Smoking lounges
  13. Medical services and pharmacies
  14. Money changers( beureu de change)
  15. ICDL training.[4]


Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was once a thriving airport with non-stop flights to the UK, Australia and several other countries. Due to political unrest and the economic crisis, there are now (2020) few international flights to Harare Airport, although South African Airways, British Airways, Airlink and Air Zimbabwe still operate flights to major centres in nearby countries such as Johannesburg. [5] Emirates also flies direct from Dubai. The airport is a hub for Air Zimbabwe. A total of 18 international airlines stopped flying into the country after the economic decline set in almost a decade ago. They include Lufthansa, Qantas, Austrian Airlines, Swissair, Air India, Air France and TAP Air Portugal. Others are Egypt Air, Air Mauritius, Linhas Aereas de Mocambique, Air Namibia, Royal Swazi Airlines and Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Ghana Airways, Air Uganda and Air Cameroon. Only a few airlines from South African Airways, Britain, Zimbabwe, British, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia still use Harare International Airport. But Air France, Austrian Airlines, Egypt Air, Swiss Air, Bulgarian Airlines, Qantas, Emirates Airways, KLM and Lufthansa have indicated that they are now ready to fly into Zimbabwe.[5]


Drama and Controversies

The Harare Airport has not recorded any major accidents. This has mainly attributed to relatively low traffic especially in the recent years. In 2014, the airport was in the media after a South African pilot stripped off his clothes before his plane was just about to take off. There was drama at the airport after a South African pilot Captain W Van Ginkel lost his temper and stripped down to his underpants in protest against security procedures. Zimbabwean media reported that at least 90 passengers aboard South African flight 025 who were due to travel to Johannesburg on that very morning were left stranded following the bizarre incident. [6]

2020 Gold Smuggling Arrest

On 26 October 2020, Henrietta Rushwaya was arrested as she tried to smuggle 6kgs of gold out of Zimbabwe at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

Detectives, who were tracking her based on a tip-off, alerted the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) scanner operators to thoroughly examine Rushwaya's hand luggage where the gold was subsequently found. The gold was worth US$366,000.

Questioned about the origin of the gold, she said that she had obtained it from an Ali of number 32 Lanark Road, Alexandra Park, Harare. She was charged with smuggling under the Customs and Excise Act. [7]

Gold Mafia

The Gold Mafia (2023) documentary exposed security flaws at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. Security was intentionally compromised to facilitate the smuggling of valuable minerals and cash. Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe head of security Cleopas Chidodo revealed in detail how criminal gangs smuggled ivory, minerals and money through the airport, without repercussion – thanks to his facilitation. Anything you need to take our of the country, that’s my area, he boasted in front of undercover journalists posing as criminals who wanted to smuggle gold.
For smaller quantities of contraband like gold in hand-held luggage, Cleopas Chidodo was also ready to assist. You come to immigration, they stamp your passport. Then I tell you come but use the machine to your right, where you remove shoes, belt what what, just as with the bag scanner, the scanner at this point is also bribed to look aside. You put in the machine, they don’t look at your bag because there will be an arrangement between you and me. After that, you go into the departure lounge and you sit and wait for your plane, he said. [8]

In Gold Mafia interviews Chidodo and shows a CAAZ document that alleges there is a protocol that the first family (current and former) are not to be searched at the airport. It says Grace Mugabe flew out a shipping container of ivory without Robert Mugabe’s knowledge, and transported diamonds from ‘a diamond mine’ without being searched. [9]


  1. [ ], Harare International Airport renamed , 10 November 2017 , Retrieved:20 November 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 , About Harare International HRE Airport, "Make My", retrieved:14 Oct 2014"
  3. , Rhodesia, "Flight Global Archive", retrieved:10 Oct 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 , About Us, "Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe", retrieved:14 Oct 2014"
  5. 5.0 5.1 , Harare International Airport (HRE), retrieved:14 Oct 2014"
  6. , Drama as angry SA pilot strips at Harare airport, "News 24", published:02 Jul 2014,retrieved:"
  7. Ex-ZIFA CEO Henreatta Rushwaya arrested for gold smuggling at RGM Airport, ZimLive, Published: 26 Oct 2020, Retrieved: 26 Oct 2020
  8. Al Jazeera exposes porous security systems at Robert Mugabe Airport, News Hawks, Published: 3 April 2023, Retrieved: 22 April 2023
  9. Grace Mugabe hired planes to smuggle Zim elephant ivory, Marange diamonds: Cleopas Chidodo, CAAZ boss, ZW News, Published: 14 April 2023, Retrieved: 22 April 2023

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