Better Not to Fly?

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK In the wake of ongoing terror threats, the Namibian High Commission in the UK has advised Namibians not to travel to, or transit through, UK airports. A brief statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday triggered by the threats to blow up British and American flights and the subsequent security measures, said all travellers from Namibia should avoid travelling to, or transiting through, airports in the UK until further notice. But, Air Namibia, which last Thursday also issued an announcement about new security measures that have been put in place to ensure maximum safety and security at the airports, said there is no need to panic. Air Namibia’s Manager: Commercial Services, Helois //Hoabeb, said yesterday the situation was getting back to normal and all flights from southern Africa were again operating. “So why should Namibians not go there?” he asked. //Hoabeb added that it was not in the interest of the airline to jeopardise any passenger’s life as safety was the company’s prime responsibility. Although there have been seven no-shows since Thursday, //Hoabeb said this was a normal situation as 7 to 10 percent of passengers that book a flight are likely not to show up for their trip. “We did not receive any cancellations but a few people did not turn up,” he said. New Era understands that due to the situation it is advisable that people, especially from Africa travelling to the UK, should rather fly to other countries and then take other means of transport to go to the UK. It is understood that some passengers, after going through the rigorous security checks, have been turned back while others have had their baggage thrown away, which has left them thinking it is a waste of money to travel now. Air Namibia flies to Gatwick Airport three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and back to Hosea Kutako International Airport on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The alert follows on the discovery of British police of an alleged plot by British Moslems to blow up planes flying from the UK. This plot was foiled on Thursday when UK authorities suspected that liquid explosives of some sort would be used to blow up planes in mid-flight. Incoming short-range flights at Heathrow airport have since resumed with long-haul services seriously delayed. Since then, airports have been crammed with thousands of passengers queuing to pass through customs, the British press reports. The authorities were quoted as saying that they believe that the terrorists’ aim was to smuggle explosives on to aeroplanes in hand luggage and to detonate these in flight and that these were targeted at flights from the United Kingdom to the USA. Air Namibia said on Thursday that despite the new developments, its flight SW 385/6 would operate as normal and that it would remain on schedule with its arrivals and departure from Gatwick. //Hoabeb said on Thursday all affected airports would be have additional security in place and advised clients about the lengthy queues and extremely thorough security questions and checks. “Security and safety is not on request, it is rather a must. Therefore, we trust that you will co-operate at all times on the ground and in flight – it is vital,” said //Hoabeb. Items that can be taken through airport security search points is a single transparent plastic carrier bag that includes pocket-sized wallets and purses with money, credit cards and identity cards, travel documents, prescribed medicines and medicinal items such as diabetic kits, spectacles and glasses without cases, contact lenses without bottles and solution, baby food and sanitary items for infants, female sanitary items essential for the flight and limited duty free purchases, among others.