Air Namibia has suspended all flights until at least 20 April, following President Hage Geingob’s announcement of a temporary travel ban for all flights into and out of the country on Tuesday.
Namibia joined the growing list of African countries to announce outright bans on air travel earlier this week. President Hage Geingob, who was inaugurated a week ago today, introduced the travel ban as the first few cases of coronavirus in the country were confirmed. Namibia’s current total now stands at eight.
“During this difficult period, I call on all Namibians to cooperate with the authorities and to remain calm, in order to ensure that public order is not compromised,” Gaingob said in a public statement.
While Namibia has not yet introduced a full nation-wide lockdown, it has introduced a lockdown in the Khomas and Erongo regions, which will remain in place until 16 April. Namiba’s parliament will also remain closed for a period of 21 days, while bars and pubs will have to close at 6:00pm for the next two weeks.
Air Namibia’s shutdown
After the introduction of the air travel ban, Air Namibia released its own statement on the state of its operations for the next month. The airline had previously suspended its international flights as of 14 March, and has now suspended all regional and domestic flights between 27 March and 20 April.
Although Air Namibia’s regular passenger services will no longer be operational over the course of the next month, the airline confirmed on its website that its aircraft will be available for other flights. Air Namibia will offer its aircraft’s services for humanitarian purposes via charter flights. Additionally, its aircraft will be available to help with airlift of pharmaceutical supplies and consumables.
Air Namibia says on its website that it “joins the world in fighting COVID-19,” and “the safety of our passengers, staff and the nation at large remains at the heart of our operations.”
Options for passengers due to fly over the next month
Large number of passengers will be affected by the temporary cancellation of Air Namibia flights over the next month. But the airline has announced it will be making flexible booking available to these customers.
Any individual who has purchased a ticket for a flight due to depart before 30 April is entitled to one free ticket change for a new flight set to depart before 31 December. Passengers can find out more information by emailing Air Namibia at CallCentre@airnamibia.aero.
Air Namibia’s ongoing problems
While the coronavirus pandemic is an issue affecting airlines all over the world, Air Namibia has been facing its own problems for many years. The state-owned airline has never returned a profit throughout its 29-year history, a fact which has drawn frequent criticism from members of the Namibian government.
In October, Air Namibia asked for $137 million to help ease its financial situation. While this request was not fulfilled, the airline did receive $35 million so that it could service its aircraft, which it was forced to ground due to a lack of cash.