Namibia: Airlines to Resume Namibian Flights Mid-September

2 September 2020

AIRLINES which frequent the Namibian tarmac have set their sights on resuming flights to the country in mid-September.

This comes on the heels of the country announcing new protocols for its tourism revival initiative targeting international travellers.

"The protocols will come into effect from 1 September 2020, which will signal the reopening of Hosea Kutako International Airport to international tourists," minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta last week said.

Ethiopian Airlines on Monday announced plans to resume flights to Namibia as of Friday next week.

"The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism recently announced the reopening of the Namibian borders from 1 September 2020 as part of the tourism revival initiative. It's against this background that Ethiopian Airlines will resume its commercial flights and cargo operations to and from Windhoek from 11 September," said Ethiopian Airlines sales manager in Namibia, Jitendra Mandani, in a statement.

Qatar Airways, another world-class airline that grounds at Namibia's Hosea Kutako could commence flights from 15 September.

Paulus Negongo, senior sales support agent at Qatar Airways' Windhoek office, said the airline does not currently have any flights scheduled to or from Namibia.

"Currently, there is no schedule from Windhoek. The schedule only starts from 1 October, but that may change," he said.

Angolan flag carrier TAAG has also indicated that it anticipates commencing its Windhoek-Luanda route as of 18 September.

British Airways, however, will not be picking up its route come mid-September as the airline's South African operator, Comair, announced in May that it was entering business rescue.

Earlier this year, Comair said it only expected to resume its flight operations in October or November.

A sales agent said the airline currently has no flights scheduled.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) said it is preparing for the resumption of international flights at Hosea Kutako from 1 September 2020.

"NAC has set in motion its restart plan ... to ensure the airport's readiness upon the resumption of international flights under the provisions of the state of emergency regulations on Covid-19," the company's marketing officer, Dan Kamati, said in a statement on Monday.

Kamati, however, said it has not yet received any airline's schedule ahead of the reopening.

"But they [the airlines] have expressed their willingness to resume flights and we are anticipating mid-September 2020. Alternatively, we advise prospective passengers to consult airlines for travel itineraries," Kamati said.

Namibia announced the opening of its international airspace last week.

Travellers will only be allowed to enter the country via Hosea Kutako International Airport.

The country's ports and road borders will remain closed for the duration of stage 3 of the state of emergency.

Namibia's tourism sector has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closure of borders and the complete absence of visitors from abroad over the past months. The country's revival plan aims to re-establish the tourism sector.

Kamati said the airport will abide by social distancing measures with the use of floor and seat stickers, and is equipped with sanitiser dispensers and thermostats for temperature testing.

"The airport surfaces, trollies and other amenities will also be disinfected and cleaned frequently for your safety," he said.

LOCAL AIRLINES

Local airlines also expect to resume their routes, including domestic routes, mid-month. This will depend on what the government decides once this phase of the stage 3 lockdown lapses on 12 September.

Meanwhile, Air Namibia has suspended all its flights until 30 September while West Air aviation awaits a lift of the lockdown.

"Only from 15 September things will be progressing. So, you can expect domestic [air] travel to start from 12 or 15 September," West Air business development manager Frederico Ribeiro said.

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