Airbuses Still Can’t Land At Hosea Kutako

HOSEA Kutako International Airport remains out of bounds for airbuses following an order overruling a decision by the Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina to exempt Air Namibia aircraft from the ban this week.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) overruled Nghimtinaa’s decision to exempt Air Namibia’s airbuses after the organisation downgraded Hosea Kutako from category eight to five last week because of poor fire fighting and emergency rescue services.

The downgrading means no A330 aircraft should land or take off from Hosea Kutako until the Namibia Airports Company has met all the requirements regarding fire fighting and emergency rescue services.

They were given 15 days to comply with the directives of the ban. Air Namibia pleaded with Nghimtina for an exemption, which the minister granted but with strict conditions to be followed whenever the airline’s A330s need to land at or take off from Hosea Kutako.

Although details of the order by ICAO were not readily available yesterday, Air Namibia spokesperson Hilia Sikanda said in a statement that the aircraft will, during the period of the ban, use Lusaka in Zambia.

“We will continue to operate in this manner for the next two weeks or until the Namibia Airports Company has fulfilled the requirements,” Sikanda said in a press statement.

When the ban was effected last Monday, Air Namibia’s flights were diverted to Gaborone in Botswana from where passengers were then flown to Windhoek in smaller aircraft that can still land at Hosea Kutako.

Sikanda said their flight SW285 which plies the Windhoek-Frankfurt route, will operate from Lusaka with passengers being flown there on two A319-100s where the A330 will depart from today. Flight SW286 from Frankfurt today will be diverted to Lusaka and the passengers flown to Windhoek in smaller aircraft.

She also pointed out that the airport is owned and operated by the NAC, and Air Namibia, like all other airlines operating at the airport, will be negatively affected.

NAC spokesperson Dan Kamati said the airports company is confident that they will meet the ICAO deadline.

“NAC remains committed to managing and developing safe and secure airports with due consideration to the interest of our stakeholders, and Hosea Kutako remains operational as a flagship airport of Namibia and the gateway to the rest of the world,” said Kamati in an email.

Source : The Namibian