4 August 2006

Namibia: Air Namibia Clips Own Wings

Windhoek — Air Namibia has drastically reduced its flights from Windhoek to Mpacha in Caprivi from the previous six weekly flights to a mere single flight, compelling an unspecified but large number of potential air passengers to travel by road.

A trip that by air took anything between 120 and 135 minutes can now last a tiring 600 to 720 minutes by road over a distance of roughly 1 300 km between the two destinations.

If they miss out on the usually fully booked single weekly flight to Mpacha, some passengers accustomed to the comforts that come with this mode of modern travel have to endure being packed like sardines in the minibuses plying this route.

Before the flights were drastically reduced to one that takes place on Mondays on a B1900 - one of the three aircraft leased by Air Namibia from South Africa - sitting 19, a 406 Cessna with a capacity of 10 passengers used to service that route six times a week.

The scheduled flights to Mpacha involving the national air carrier previously took place on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays every week.

Ellison Hijarunguru, the Manager for Corporate Communications at Air Namibia yesterday indicated the reduction in the number of flights was effected in June. He also said that this will still be in effect over the coming two weeks before the national airline reviews its decision and decides on the best way forward.

He stated that a number of domestic flights were affected and that the changes are due to non-compliance with prescribed standards required of the aircraft used by a local airline that serviced the route on Air Namibia's behalf.

"The non-compliance of the aircraft has resulted in Air Namibia not being able to operate these non listed aircraft for scheduled flights. For the interim, we have secured three B1900 aircraft from South Africa and we are operating legally," he previously stated.

In terms of the Directorate of Civil Aviation, Air Namibia has successfully renewed all its Air Operator Certificates for international and regional destinations and therefore these flights continue to operate unhindered.

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