The first time I travelled to Lusaka (Zambia) and Harare (Zimbabwe) was 3 years ago, even before the airline started operation. I flew to Lusaka via Nairobi and after a couple of days work in Lusaka, travelled to Harare. At the time, there wasn’t actually a fully operational flight kitchen in Lusaka, except the old building next to Lusaka Airport that operated a small flight catering kitchen for Zambia Airlines. After Zambia airlines was closed down, flight kitchen too had literally closed down. During our visit, we learnt that one of the International Flight Catering Group Company had acquired the old Zimbabwe Airline Flight Kitchen we were visiting. In fact, we even met the founder/CEO of the company and he offered that they will renovate the old building and install new kitchen equipment like Blast Chillers,cold rooms & dish-washer and recruit staff to operate a Flight Kitchen to cater to our airline. Looking at the status of the facility at the time and the volume of work that need to be completed, we had our doubts whether all what the founder/CEO said was realistic.
In any case, we wanted to look at all other available options for aircraft catering. So before we travelled to Harare, we even was considering whether the hotel we stayed - Intercontinental, Lusaka were able to do aircraft catering for us. We understood that sometimes back Intercontinental used to supply aircraft catering to British Airways in Lusaka. After having look at the facilities (or lack of aircraft catering specific facilities) at Inercontinental , we ruled out taking catering from the hotel.
Our next look out for flight catering was in Harare and Cater Craft - a large Flight Catering Facility located within the proximity of the Airport. It was a purpose built Kitchen with a massive capacity to cater all international airlines that had previously operated to Harare.
This time, I arrived in Harare flying from Dubai via Lusaka. I have two of my other colleagues with me.
EK713 June 10th, 2014 operated by Airbus A340-300 in Three Class configuration. Business Class cabin was fitted with old type seats in 2-3-2- abreast. Even in First Class, no Suits. The flight pushed back 10 minutes behind the schedule due to the ‘Jam in the single runway operation, Captain mentioned in his PA, before take off. The pretty & charming filipino air hostess worked in the left aisle introduced her self as well as introduced the seat and the facilities to each and every customer, which I thought was really nice. Pre take off drinks offered from round tray had Orange, Apple & Champagne. I opted for a glass of fresh orange juice. Hot towels too were offered before take off.
Soon after take off, the drinks and meal order was taken for the 1st service, which was called ‘Lite Bites’. I asked for Iranian Chicken and was promptly served, after offering the drink of my choice.
Lunch was served about two hours before arrival in Lusaka and was consisted of appetiser plate, salad and a main course. I had Prawn Machboos. Hot towels were offered after the meal service as well as prior to landing in Lusaka.
After one and half hours stop in Lusaka, the aircraft departed for Harare. A cold platter lunch meal was catered from Lusaka to Harare was loaded in Lusaka. It was just about 40 minutes flight and the same crew operated the short sector. We arrived in Harare around 1750 local time.
The Airport Manager Harare was there to meet and assist us in obtaining visa and visa was granted for US$ 30/= We were then transferred to the hotel by the hotel shuttle bus. Checked into The Rainbow Towers Hotel - which is our crew hotel and is supposed to be the best hotel in Zimbabwe.
The Rainbow Towers Hotel is a pretty standard property with clean rooms. Rooms are fitted with basic facilities such as individually controlled air-conditioning, telephone, double bed, work desk, TV, mini fridge, Safe Box (mine didn’t work though) and WiFi. Room WiFi connection was rather crappy though. The bathroom had a wash basin, toilet and shower cubicle, Hair dryer. White clean cotton bathing towels as well as basic toiletries too were supplied.
The hotel has 3 restaurants - Harvest Garden, Kombahari and Teppan Yaki. After having look at the food offering, we decided to have a light snack at the coffee shop, located in the main lobby. After having the dinner, we retired to our rooms as we were tired after flying for almost nine hours.
We checked out the hotel the next day morning. Checking out process wasn’t very smooth though, having to wait for about 15 minutes os so.
King Size bad
Part of the bathroom
The Flight Kitchen
We visited the one and only Flight Catering Company in Harare - Catercraft for unit inspection and food presentation. I immediately noticed there had been a few improvements overall, since my last visit there 3 years back.
On the wall at main entrance to the Flight Kitchen, I spotted this photo that had Vickers Viscount, that was operated by Air Rhodesia owned by Rhodesian government, before it became Zimbabwe.