Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport

Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (IATA: HRE, ICAO: FVRG),[1] formerly known as the Harare International Airport, is an international airport in Harare, Zimbabwe. It is the largest airport in the country and serves as the base of Air Zimbabwe. The airport is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. It was originally built as Salisbury Airport.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport
Harare International Airport.jpg
Airport typeJoint (Civil and Military)
OperatorCivil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe
ServesHarare, Zimbabwe
Hub for
Elevation AMSL4,887 ft / 1,490 m
Coordinates17°55′54.5″S 31°05′34.25″E / 17.931806°S 31.0928472°E / -17.931806; 31.0928472
HRE is located in Zimbabwe
Location of the airport in Zimbabwe
Direction Length Surface
ft m
05/23 15,500 4,725 Asphalt
Statistics (2016)
Passengers1 096 375


Commissioned in 1956, and officially opened on 5 February 1957; Salisbury Airport cost £924,000 to build. According to the 1950 report of the Director of Civil Aviation, the city's original aerodrome, Belvedere Airport, had proved to be inadequate and had to be abandoned for the following reasons:[2]

  • the runway was some 45° out of alignment, given that approaching aircraft had to enter through a gap in Warren Hills;
  • because of the skewed align, aircraft were forced to take-off over the city centre, which posed a real danger of accidents;
  • the growing number of high-rise buildings in the city, particularly Milton Building, posed a risk to aircraft;
  • Belvedere Airport had been built to accommodate the RAF Elementary Flying Training School, so the layout and design of the buildings were not particularly suitable for commercial aviation.

A site therefore had to be found for the construction of an airport that would be safer and more suitable for commercial activities.

The Southern Rhodesian government had appointed a Southern Rhodesia Aerodrome Board as early as January 1947, whose task was to advise the government on the selection, acquisition, construction and maintenance of government aerodromes and landing grounds in Southern Rhodesia. Later the same year, an Airfield Construction Unit was formed to undertake an extensive search for a suitable site for a national airport.[citation needed]

In 1949, the government purchased Kentucky and Adair farms east of Salisbury (2,700 acres at a cost of £54,000) for the construction of the new airport. Also in 1949 the Minister of Mines and Transport set up an Airport Panel to co-ordinate the construction of the airport. The Panel comprised representatives of the interested government departments, the Municipality of Salisbury and Rhodesia Railways.[citation needed]

In 1951 the government announced that the airport would be developed as a joint user aerodrome for both civil aviation and the Southern Rhodesian Air Force (SRAF). Construction of the airport began soon afterwards, and by September 1951, an 8,400 ft runway had been completed, enabling the first aircraft; an SRAF Anson- to land at the new airport.[citation needed]

Originally, it was anticipated that the airport would be completed by 1954. It was, however, not completed until two years later, because the government ran out of funds in October 1952 and had to suspend the project temporarily. The new Salisbury Airport was finally commissioned on 1 July 1956 by the Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The cost of building the airport was £924,000.[3]

Due to a decline in tourists to Zimbabwe, as a result of internal political conflicts since 2000; few major airlines use the airport as a result, with Emirates and Qatar Airways being the only two Middle Eastern airlines operating to Harare.

British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Swissair, Qantas and Air France are the airlines that have previously served Harare International Airport for many years.

On 9 November 2017, Harare International Airport was officially renamed after the second President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport,[4] a decision that was announced earlier in September 2017 and sparked a controversy, as many Zimbabweans felt that too many places in the country had already been renamed after Mugabe.[5]


Air Rhodesia established its headquarters at the airport in 1967,[6] and since Zimbabwean independence in 1980, Air Rhodesia's successor, Air Zimbabwe, has maintained the status quo with its head office located at the airport as well.[7][8] Civil aviation regulatory authority, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe has its head office on level 3 of the new International Terminal.[9]

In August 2018, Boeing announced that it is in negotiations with Zimbabwean authorities to establish a regional hub for Boeing aeroplanes for providing training and expert technical services at the airport.[10]

Airlines and destinationsEdit

Air TanzaniaDar es Salaam
Air ZimbabweBulawayo, Dar es Salaam,[11] Johannesburg–O. R. Tambo, Victoria Falls
AirlinkCape Town,[12] Durban, [13] Johannesburg–O. R. Tambo
EmiratesDubai–International, Lusaka
Ethiopian AirlinesAddis Ababa, Lusaka
Fastjet ZimbabweBulawayo, Johannesburg–O. R. Tambo, Victoria Falls
Kenya AirwaysLusaka, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Malawian Airlines Lilongwe, Lusaka
Proflight ZambiaLusaka
Qatar AirwaysDoha, Lusaka[14]
RwandAirCape Town,a Kigali
South African AirwaysJohannesburg–O. R. Tambo[15]
TAAG Angola AirlinesLuanda

^a Flights to and from Kigali have a stopover in Harare. The airline has full traffic rights to transport passengers between Harare and Cape Town.


Annual passenger traffic at HRE airport. See source Wikidata query.

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • In July 1984, Vickers Viscount Z-YNI of Air Zimbabwe was damaged beyond economic repair in an accident on the ground. It was withdrawn from use as a result and passed to the airport's fire department for use as a training aid.[16][17]
  • On 20 September 1987, Douglas C-47A Z-WRJ of Crest Breeders crashed shortly after take-off following a loss of power from the starboard engine. The aircraft was on a cargo flight. All three crew survived.[18]
  • On 3 November 2009, Air Zimbabwe Xian MA60 performing flight UM-239 hit five warthogs on take-off. The take-off was rejected but the undercarriage collapsed, causing substantial damage to the aircraft.[19]


  1. ^ a b "AD 1.3 INDEX TO AERODROMES" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 January 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  2. ^ "History of Civil aviation in Rhodesia" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  3. ^ "southern rhodesia - salisbury airport - terminal building - 1957 - 0287 - Flight Archive". Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Zimbabwe renames Harare airport after Robert Mugabe". BBC News. 9 November 2017. Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. ^ "[Photos] Zimbabwe finally renames its main airport after Mugabe". 9 November 2017. Archived from the original on 22 March 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  6. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 10 April 1969. 557 Archived 4 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine. "Head Office: Salisbury Airport. Salisbury. Rhodesia."
  7. ^ "Airline Membership." (Archive) International Air Transport Association. Retrieved on 27 February 2012. "Air Zimbabwe Corporation Harare Airport Harare Zimbabwe"
  8. ^ World Airline Directory. Flight International. 16–22 March 2004. "78 Archived 4 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 3 October 2009. "PO Box AP1, Harare Airport, Harare, Zimbabwe"
  9. ^ "Contact Us Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. Retrieved on 13 February 2011. "Physical Address: Level 3, Harare International Airport."
  10. ^ "Boeing tech hub coming to Harare". The Sunday Mail. Zimbabwe Newspapers Ltd. 12 August 2018. Archived from the original on 28 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Air Zimbabwe (UM) #438". Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Airlink to begin Harare service from March 3". 10 February 2021. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  13. ^ 0:00 (22 July 2020). "Airlink says direct flights between Durban and Harare will boost economic ties | Fin24". Retrieved 7 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^[bare URL]
  15. ^ "SAA takes off on September 23 with these routes".
  16. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  17. ^ "VH-TVN. Vickers Viscount 756. c/n 374". Aussie Airliners. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  18. ^ "Z-WRJ Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  19. ^ "Plane smashes into wild pigs". Straits Times. Archived from the original on 10 November 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2009.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Harare International Airport at Wikimedia Commons