AirNam scraps London route


air_namibia.jpgAIR Namibia is scrapping all flights to London's Gatwick airport from June 3 and is also cutting flights on its Johannesburg, Vic Falls-Maun and coastal routes.

It said yesterday that the flight cancellations are an effort to minimise its losses and optimise its opportunities.

Citing the current economic climate in the airline industry, acting
Managing Director Theo Namases said the airline has had to reassess
its route networks.

A huge drop in passenger numbers and a monthly decrease of around 22
per cent in airfreight were just some of the problems the airline
industry was currently facing, Namases said.

The London route, which was already scaled down from three to two
flights per week last year, was only operating at 60 per cent capacity,
according to the airline's acting General Manager of Commercial
Operations, Mlinga Muyunda.

The last flight to London will leave on May 28.

Muyunda said passengers already booked on flights to Gatwick after the
cut-off date would be offered alternative travel arrangements with
Air Namibia-affiliated companies.

The airline will keep a presence in London and offer the route via Frankfurt using partner companies, Muyunda said.

The Johannesburg route will lose one flight per week on Wednesday
afternoon, and the Maun-Victoria Falls route will be cut from five to
four flights, and down to three in the low season.

The change for the Johannesburg route comes into effect from May 27 and the Maun-Victoria Falls route on May 15.

To offset some of the losses incurred by planes standing idle, the
airline said it will increase flights to Luanda and Frankfurt due to
high demand.

There will be one more flight a week on both these routes, resulting in
four flights to Luanda and six to Frankfurt. The extra flights to these
destinations will start on July 1.

The acting General Manager of Technical Operations, Ben Dawa, said both
flight routes have a load capacity of about 80 per cent, which in the
airline industry means more flights should be made available.

While it was reported a while back that international operations were
Air Namibia's biggest loss makers, Dawa said with the additional flight
the Frankfurt route was breaking even.

He said the biggest culprit on the airline's books had always been the
London route. Air Namibia made a loss of N$180 million in the last
financial year.

Dawa said the fact that Air Namibia leased rather than owned planes
meant they needed to be creative with their route planning, as planes
standing idle would incur losses.

The planes used for the London route would now take over the additional
Frankfurt flight while the scrapped Johannesburg flight would take over
the Luanda route, he said.

The airline also announced that it is changing its flight times to Katima Mulilo and Ondangwa.

Both flights will now return later to accommodate same-day travellers.

The Namibian

Post published in: Economy

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