Air Namibia announced that it has suspended its Windhoek – Lagos – Accra route effective May 24, 2019. The route was launched at the end of June 2018.
The route started off very well in terms of passenger numbers and revenue generation, and within two months the route was making a positive contribution to the airline’s route network.
During February 2019, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia banned the issuing of visas to Namibian passport holders. In addition, there are messages circulating in Nigeria about Namibia being “anti-Nigeria”, with travelers being urged to avoid visiting Namibia, as well as avoid using Windhoek as a transit point when travelling to South Africa.
Mr. Wimpie van Vuuren, Acting General Manager Commercial Services, said that the ban of issuing visas to Namibians can be linked to allegations that Nigerians are normally ill-treated by Namibian border control officials at Hosea Kutako International Airport when arriving or transiting through Windhoek. Air Namibia consulted various stakeholders to mitigate the diplomatic standoff, but all efforts proved futile.
The load factor performance of the route dropped from average 55% attained during June 2018 to January 2019, to between 35% and 38% during February to April 2019.
Mr Paul Nakawa, Manager Corporate Communications noted that Air Namibia decided to suspend this route for an indefinite period in order to mitigate the related safety, non- compliance and commercial risks. He concluded by saying: “affected passengers will be assisted by accommodating them on flights operated by our partner airlines at Air Namibia’s cost, or they will be refunded if they opt not to fly anymore.”
The mandate of Air Namibia is to be a major contributor towards the attraction and promotion of tourism to Namibia by providing air transport between the Land of the Brave and rest of the world, as well as operating flights within the boundaries of Namibia.