Windhoek-The national carrier Air Namibia yesterday confirmed that it will resume flights to Accra, Ghana, as of the end of June this year. However, to increase its chances of making a profit on this route, which the airline abandoned in 2013, it will now combine the flights to Ghana with flights to Lagos in Nigeria in a bid that Air Namibia says is expected to grow its business as well as its footprint on the African continent.
The days of operation for the new route from Windhoek will be Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as this operating schedule and flight timing allow smooth and convenient connections inbound and outbound to regional flights, connecting West Africa via Windhoek to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Luanda, Harare, Lusaka, Vic Falls, Gaborone, Walvis Bay and Durban.
“Air Namibia previously operated the flight connecting Windhoek and Accra, and the service was suspended in 2013. What is different this time around is that we are combining Accra with Lagos, and we also have traffic rights for passengers and cargo for travel between Lagos and Accra using the fifth freedom traffic rights granted by the Ghanaian and Nigerian governments, as contained in the existing Bilateral Air Service Agreements, which makes it a totally different and much bigger operation than before. Furthermore, we will be entering Africa’s largest regional air travel market,” explained Twakulilwa Kayofa, Air Namibia’s corporate communications officer.
He added that Air Namibia, as the national carrier, has ambitions to grow the business, creating easy access to West Africa and vice versa.
“Flying to Accra and Lagos will give our passengers a better alternative travel option, and will reduce travel times between Namibia and West Africa by more than 60 percent. We are happy to introduce our award-winning service in this market and we are already receiving positive feedback on the launch of this new route. The operation fits within our existing capacity in terms of aircraft and crew, thereby improving the utilisation rates of these resources while increasing revenue catchment opportunities.”
He said that Air Namibia is grateful to the Namibian, Ghanaian and Nigerian governments for the commitment to promote easy access and the much-needed improved levels of mobility on the continent, which will help promote intra-Africa trade and tourism flows.
Some of the factors which led to Air Namibia abandoning the route in 2013 included a lack of a Namibian diplomatic mission in Ghana to facilitate visa applications. However, since 2015 Namibia has established a resident diplomatic mission in Accra, making it easy for Ghanaians to acquire a Namibia visa.
In addition, lack of knowledge by residents of both countries about each other still persists and it is expected that Ghana’s mission in Namibia and Namibia’s mission in Ghana will work hard to address that knowledge gap.
It has been reported that Minister of Aviation, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, assured Namibia of her ministry’s support for Air Namibia in their quest to re-launch in Ghana. She said Ghana had become a very attractive destination for travellers due to the measures put in place in pursuit of making Kotoka International Airport the aviation hub for the ECOWAS region.
“This is very good news. As much as we want people or airlines to come from other places, we entreat African airlines to take advantage of our open skies and come do business with us,” she said.