Following on from the collapse of Namibian national flag carrier Air Namibia last month, state-owned Namibia Airport Company (NAC) has welcomed the increased frequency of flights to Namibia by Airlink and FlyWestair. After years of struggle and reliance on handouts from the Namibian government to keep flying, Air Namibia announced on February 11, 2021, that it had ceased operations and was entering voluntary liquidation.
Before the global medical emergency reared its ugly head early last year, tourism was one of Namibia’s bright spots. Foreign tourists, mainly from Germany, contributed millions of dollars to the countries economy while providing thousands of direct and indirect jobs for its citizens.
As a country that is roughly 2.3 times the size of Germany or about half the size of Alaska, the Namibian government did not mind keeping the state-owned airline afloat so long as the tourists kept coming. The emergence of COVID-19 changed everything and forced the government to reconsider its need to keep financing an airline that continuously lost money.
Namibia needs flights
In a statement released yesterday, Namibia Airport Company CEO Bisey Uirab spoke about how an increase in the frequency of flights by FlyWestair and Airlink will help Namibia cope with the crippling effects of the coronavirus. The CEO stated,
“Air travel is no longer a luxury; therefore, it becomes imperative to ensure air connectivity within the local boundaries and regionally in order to promote and enhance trade and investment.”
On March 2, privately owned South African carrier Airlink started flying between Cape Town, South Africa, and Walvis Bay, Namibia, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Airlink says that the new route, its fourth between the two southern African nations, will enable seamless multi-city travel.
As well as Airlinks’ new route, Windhoek-based FlyWestair plans to increase its flights from the Namibian capital to Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Airport (OND) in Ondangwa from March 15, 2021. Currently, privately owned FlyWestair flies between Windhoek and Ondangwa on Friday and Sunday.
This will now increase to four flights per week with the addition of Tuesday and Thursday flights. FlyWestair also said that starting March 15, it will fly from Windhoek to Katima Mulilo Airport (MPA) on Monday and Friday and Rundu Airport (NDU) on Tuesday and Thursday.
Founded in 1992 and based at O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, South Africa, Airlink’s main aim was to provide air transport from underserved towns to hubs in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In recent years, Airlink has grown, taking over many routes that were flown by South African Airways (SAA). Prior to COVID, it even served the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena.
According to Planespotters.net, Airlink has a fleet comprised of the following aircraft:
- 4 x British Aerospace Jetstream 41s
- 28 x Embraer ERJ-135s
- 3 x Embraer ERJ-170s
- 12 x Embraer ERJ-190s
Originally formed as an aircraft maintenance facility in 1967, Westair Aviation later entered into the passenger and freight business, offering various scheduled and unscheduled flights within Namibia. For the past 20 years, FlyWestair has been a dedicated cargo carrier for German logistics company DHL.
FlyWestair operates a fleet of Embraer, Beechcraft, Piper, and Cessna aircraft, with the Embraer ERJ-145 being their largest plane.
What do you think about the new service to and within Namibia? Please tell us what you think in the comments.