Air Namibia Cans Ghana Route

The national airline Air Namibia has finally cancelled the flight to Accra, Ghana, nearly two years after political pressure and heavy lobbying from the Ghanaian government forced the national airline to cancel, at the eleventh hour, a public announcement on the suspension of the route. Yesterday Air Namibia announced that as from June 26 the flight to Accra would no longer be offered, ending months of industry speculation about a new political outlook not favouring the continuation of the Accra route.

The airline also said it quotdoes not foresee re-entering the Ghanaian market in the near futurequot as it first needs to grow the market and perhaps look at extending its services to some of Ghana’s neighbours in order to make the route a profitable one. Yet, the airline would quotcontinue to be active in the Ghanaian market by continuing to be in the Billing and Settling Plan, with sales visits and maintaining contact with the travel trade,quot Air Namibia’s Marketing and Sales Manager, Wimpy van Vuuren, said when making the announcement in Windhoek yesterday morning.

The Ghanaian Embassy in Windhoek, when contacted for comment on the new development, said they are yet to receive the official notification from the national airline or the government, and would only respond when they saw such communication.

quotAlthough we recorded growth in traffic numbers and we have frequent flyers on this route, levels are not sufficient and will take a very long time to reach desired economic levels,quot Van Vuuren said. He said the decision would improve the financial performance of the national airline.

Air Namibia first introduced the route during November 2009 with great fanfare when it flew from Windhoek via Johannesburg to Accra. However, with Air Namibia’s business plan and turnaround strategy approved by Cabinet the national airline changed the route to fly directly from Windhoek to Accra.

Van Vuuren said the decision was based on limited traffic numbers on the Windhoek to Accra route. quotWe knew from the beginning that traffic would be limited on this route, but we had hoped that the introduction of a direct flight would change that,quot said Van Vuuren.

Van Vuuren explained that the Windhoek to Accra route was only profitable during the month of December, but did not generate a positive turnover for the airline during the rest of the year. quotPart of the reason for failure to grow the market fast enough was the difficulty the market had in coming to Namibia, given the absence of a visa issuing office in Ghana,quot said Van Vuuren.

He added that people needed to go to Abuja, Nigeria, for visa applications before coming to Namibia and this made it more difficult and unattractive to come to Namibia.

Van Vuuren elaborated that Air Namibia and most African airlines face various challenges, including the fact that European and Middle Eastern airlines are looking for new opportunities in emerging markets such as Africa. quotAfrican airlines need to accept that they are operating in a highly competitive environment. African airlines will have to start working together to enhance each other’s routes and services,quot Van Vuuren said.

Source : New Era