Days after the national airline Air Namibia successfully managed to have the High Court suspend low-cost carrier Fly Africa’s operations between Windhoek and OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, Fly Africa has come out guns blazing to accuse Air Namibia of deploying dirty tactics.
On its part Air Namibia responded by saying it has taken note of Fly Africa’s slanderous statement on its official social media sites, but has no intention of engaging in a public fight.
Fly Africa on Sunday posted on Facebook that it is “aware of the decisions made in the High Court on Friday. Air Namibia has again used dirty tactics to stop competition so they can continue to charge unreasonable fares for bad service. It needs to stop.”
Fly Africa said it “will bring low fares to an over-charged segment.”
Late yesterday afternoon the marketing manager for Fly Africa, Courtney Hill, said the airline takes full responsibility for the Facebook post and for other statements posted via social media.
Yesterday Air Namibia responded by saying it took note of Fly Africa’s “slanderous and most unprofessional comments published on its media pages”.
“Air Namibia has no intention of participating in a public mud-slinging contest, but believes that it is appropriate to record the facts of the recent events, without emotion or bias,” the national airliner’s acting managing director Ellaine Samson said. Observers have expressed concern over the broken relationship between the two airlines, with some questioning how the two will operate simultaneously should Fly Africa acquire full rights to fly from Hosea Kutako to OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Fly Africa said it would vigorously defend its position, as it believes the travelling public have a right to pay less instead of more.
“The losers in this are the travellers to Namibia, who will face high fares, and the tourism and small business sector, who will lose out on saving money. This is a bad decision for Namibia and penalises the Namibian traveller while protecting a bloated and inefficient airline,” said the low-cost airline on social media.
“We will fly to Namibia. We will bring low fares to an over-charged segment. Our commitment is absolute and the money invested to stop the perennial Pinocchios at Air Namibia from claiming they welcome competition and then running scared to the High Court will be money well spent,” said Fly Africa in the post. According to the budget airline: “The ruling states that we are entitled to fly to WDH [Windhoek]. But the court believes only from Lanseria.
The court believes that we cannot operate from OR Tambo. So we can always operate from a low-cost airport if we wish to.”
Fly Africa said it would honour the judgement. Last Friday, High Court Judge Shafimana Uitele ordered that Fly Africa immediately stop transporting passengers between Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport and OR Tambo Airport.
The interdict came shortly after Air Namibia filed an urgent application to stop the much cheaper rival from introducing scheduled flights to OR Tambo. The basis for the urgent application was that Nomad Aviation – the local operator for Fly Africa – does not have a licence to convey passengers to OR Tambo.
Air Namibia applied for the interdict after the Transportation Commission of Namibia ruled that Fly Africa only has clearance to use the route to Lanseria, after the two competing airlines requested clarity from the commission.
Samson said Nomad Aviation/Fly Africa never applied for the rights to fly passengers on the Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport-OR Tambo route, and Windhoek to Cape Town International Airport.
“When prompted to produce the licences to fly passengers over these two routes, Nomad Aviation/Fly Africa relied on a licence issued to it on 25 November 2002. Air Namibia disputed that the licence produced by Nomad Aviation/Fly Africa actually grants it the rights to fly passengers over these two routes,” said Samson.