Namibia: First Flight in Six Months Lands in Namibia

14 September 2020

NAMIBIA'S first flight in six months landed in the country on Friday amid much jubilation.

About 43 passengers, including Namibian nationals and tourists, as well as 11 cabin crew members, arrived on an Ethiopian Airlines flight at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) at the start of the weekend.

Friday's flight was the first commercial one to land in Namibia after six months of a Covid-19-imposed ban on international flights.

Upon arrival in Namibia, travellers are required to provide a 72-hour negative test result for Covid-19 and may then proceed to their destination, where they will be tested on the fifth day of their stay.

Leake Hangala, chairperson of the board of directors of the Namibia Airports Company, said the resumption of internationl flights is part of the government's international tourism revival initiative that came into effect on 1 September.

This was announced by the minister of environment, forestry and tourism, Pohamba Shifeta.

Hangala commended Ethiopian Airlines for resuming flights.

"Today, we are excited to have Ethiopian Airways touch down on Namibian soil just a while ago," he said on Friday.

Globally, passenger movement has declined by almost 80% in the past six months, whereas on the African continent it has declined by to 95%, Hangala said.

Revenue and cash inflows have reduced by 96%, averaging a loss of N$41 million per month, he said.

Hangala said the flying public's safety will be assured, and measures have been put in place to ensure adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

These measures include the mandatory wearing of masks, hand sanitising, social distancing and increased hygiene.

"To avoid any inconvenience, we are calling upon all our esteemed passengers to arrive at least three hours earlier at the airport," he said.

Tsige Gebresilassie, area manager for Ethiopian Airlines, said the airline is the largest and leading airline in Africa.

Ethiopian Airlines implemented various mitigation measures and continued its regular services where possible during the Covid-19 pandemic, Gebresilassie said.

An excited crowd was awaiting family and friends at HKIA on Friday.

Shuttle enterprises and tourism operators were seen holding up posters offering transport and other services.

Among the group was an eager man, who preferred to remain anonymous, waiting for his wife and children to arrive.

Another man, Ennio Hamutenya, was awaiting his girlfriend, who travelled from Frankfurt and had to board two flights before arriving in Namibia.

When he learned about the resumption of flights he made sure his girlfriend got on the first available one, he said, as he hasn't seen her in three months.

Chawa Attokpa, from Ivory Coast, said he would be staying in Namibia for the next three months working as a seafarer on a contract basis.

Gideon Ithete, a shuttle service provider, said he has been looking forward to the flight since his business was hard hit by state of emergency regulations with no income at all for the past six months.

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