Zimbabwe: Air Namibia Plans Bulawayo-Windhoek Flights

Air Namibia is planning to introduce flights between Windhoek and Bulawayo to cater for the increasing number of people travelling between the two cities.

At present, Air Namibia services the Windhoek-Harare and the Windhoek-Victoria Falls routes at least four times a week.

The Windhoek-Harare route, which had been suspended in 1998, was relaunched in May 2012 with a smaller, 40-seater aircraft. High demand on the route forced the airline to introduce an Airbus A-319 to cater for an increase in travellers.

Air Namibia country manager for Zimbabwe, Forbes Zaranyika, told the Financial Gazette's Companies & Markets in Bulawayo recently that discussions on the introduction of direct flights into the country's second largest city had started following numerous enquiries from customers.

"We are currently doing our studies and looking at the traffic movements and detail. You know, we don't want to start something and then stop it," said Zaranyika, indicating that they were currently undertaking a feasibility study on the route.

He said there was a significant increase in the number of people travelling between Bulawayo and Windhoek, which could necessitate the introduction of a flight.

Zaranyika said the number of people travelling between the two countries would continue to increase, hence the need for more flights.

Zimbabwe and Namibia having signed a protocol on secondment of professionals, particularly nurses.

"We have a lot of Zimbabweans officially who are in Namibia and because of that we have developed another form of traffic which visits friends and relatives. They then buy tickets for their relatives and families, so traffic is growing," he said.

"Namibia is also promoting Zimbabwe as a destination for its nationals. There is also traffic for traders, people going to Walvis Bay to clear their goods that are coming by sea. There are a lot of vehicles that are coming from Europe," said Zaranyika.

He said the business-to-business traffic between the two countries was also a growing market for Air Namibia.

Apart from the Harare and Victoria Falls routes, Air Namibia also services the Cape Town, Johannesburg, Luanda, Lusaka and Maun routes with Durban set to be re-introduced in November.

Meanwhile, national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, which recently re-launched the Harare-Dar es salaam route, said it was happy with the response from travellers and marketing of the destination was ongoing.

"We are still trying to work with our partners in Tanzania so that we can come up with packages so that we can package the flights, the hotels and possibly transfers. It is something that we are working on at the moment," said Air Zimbabwe's acting general manager for passenger and cargo, Christopher Kwenda.

The ailing airline, which has adopted a gradual approach to route expansion, is also working on the re-introduction of the Harare-London route, having gone through a certification process.

The route was suspended in 2012 over a US$2,8 million debt that Air Zimbabwe is negotiating to clear.

"We have to get a route licence; we have applied for a route licence through the United Kingdom authorities. So as part of that application we have to get what they call a third country operator certificate through the European Union. We have done all the processes. We are just waiting for a response," said Kwenda.

Source: Financial Gazette