WINDHOEK – Air Namibia yesterday bid farewell to its two old Airbus A340-300 aircraft, which were used on its long haul flights between Windhoek and Frankfurt for the past seven years. The two aircraft have been replaced by the newer Airbus A330-200, which offers 20 percent lower costs compared to the old aircraft and are expected to increase the airline’s overall operational efficiency by about 30 percent.
“Currently Air Namibia has an average fleet age of six years, making Air Namibia one of the airlines with the youngest fleet on the continent. The benefits of operating newer generation aircraft are visible and we have started reaping the fruits, with lower cost and high technical dispatch reliability among others,” said the airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Rene Gsponer.
The newer aircraft, which are already in operation, are also expected to provide significant benefits to the national airline including burning less fuel and producing less carbon emissions and will result in lower maintenance costs. The newer Airbus aircraft also have lower maximum takeoff weight of 230 000kg, compared to the 257 000kg of the older aircraft. The newer aircraft also has less seats, at 244, compared to 278 seats of the older aircraft.
Gsponer added that due to added features of the new aircraft, Air Namibia will actually generate more revenue per flight even though the number of passengers carried will be less.
Other features of the A330-200 include state-of-the-art equipment for comfort and in-flight entertainment. “Most of our passengers who have had the opportunity to experience our new fleet range can testify and confirm the improvements,” commented Paul Nakawa, Head of Air Namibia’s Corporate Communications.
Air Namibia’s fleet of Airbus aircraft was first availed in 2006 with the introduction of two A340-300 aircraft leased from BCI. These aircraft are four-engine aircraft and were configured to suit the market demand at the time. Throughout the lease period the aircraft were maintained by Lufthansa Techniks in Germany as part of the lease agreement.
“We are hitting a very high service level now and can confidently say that we have achieved a 93 percent on-time departure for the last three months. Personally, I think we can improve on this figure by one or two percent,” added Gsponer. He also said that Air Namibia currently has the lowest insurance premium of any African air operator due to the excellent safety record at the airline.
By Edgar Brandt