26 February 2013

Namibia: NAC Establishes 'Fly Windhoek' Programme

Windhoek — The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) last week announced the establishment of a formal cheaper air service development programme to increase passenger traffic at Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport.

The programme is modelled on other successful European airport initiatives where private and public investors joined forces to provide a package of incentives to share the risk of new routes and to support capacity growth on existing routes, as well as build charter airline and tour operator supported programmes, through various marketing support interventions.

Commenting on the programme, Toska Sem, general manager of commercial services, said a widespread consensus is building rapidly to liberalise air transport access across African states. Sem added that it is a good time to remind the international airline community that Namibia is a signatory to the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) on the Liberalization of Air Transport Markets in Africa and is open for aviation business.

The NAC says it wants to take advantage of the rapid changes that are emerging across Africa and international aviation in general. For example, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that has now entered airline fleets opens up new possibilities for the capital Windhoek to be connected to other African hubs.

"Indeed some of the major European tour-operator led charter airlines will start to introduce the Dreamliner into their fleets. This opens up the opportunity to bring direct charter services into Windhoek, which would provide a significant boost to our tourism and hospitality economy," commented Sem.

Sem added that the NAC is already seeing the emergence of new low-cost airlines coming into the African market, such as the recently launched Fastjet, that is transforming aviation in Tanzania and Kenya.

She further said Windhoek is a perfect low-cost city break destination, which needs to be actively marketed and where enormous opportunities exist to stimulate low-cost passenger growth. Experts agree that air transport access is a key driver for regional economic growth and where the successful procurement of new airline services is not just the responsibility of airports alone, but one where all key stakeholders have to come together to present their collective pull factors.

Said Sem: "The service provision we can all provide together, both at an airport operational level and also at a regional level, to help convince airlines and tour operators to do business with Namibia and 'Fly Windhoek' is the model we have to work towards."

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