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The new route will link Southern Africa to West Africa in less than 6 hours, reducing travel times between Namibia and West Africa by more than 60%. This is according to Mandi Samson, Air Namibia’s Acting Managing Director.
Air Namibia will service this new route with the Airbus A319, offering a seat configuration of 16 Business Class and 96 Economy Class seats and offer two tons of cargo space.
“It is a welcome development that Namibia’s national carrier is set to launch its maiden flight to Nigeria after a four-year absence from Kotoko International Airport (KIA),” Amb. Kayode Adeshola, Vice President-Abuja Zone for NANTA, told Inside Travel.
According to Adeshola, the new flight could position Windhoek as a hub for African travellers who are looking for convenient onward connections to different parts of the world. He said: “This new operation is expected to allow smooth and convenient connections, and will close the gap in the market by connecting West Africa via Windhoek to Lusaka, Gaborone, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Harare, Luanda, Durban and Victoria Falls.”
Adeshola adds that the new flights are also likely to boost leisure travel between Namibia and Nigeria. “This new flight will open Namibia as a preferred destination for Nigerian travellers,” he said, adding that he urges the airline to partner with accredited NANTA travel agents in Nigeria by organising travel agency forums and familiarisation trips to Namibia.
“Tour operators are excited about Air Namibia coming into the country, as it will create a more competitive market,” says also Bukola Aliu, CEO Rock Springs Travel and Tours. “Air Namibia has good aircraft and good legroom. I’m sure their fares – if reasonable – will force other airlines to reduce theirs.”
Aliu adds the flight to Accra, which Air Namibia can operate thanks to the fifth freedom traffic rights granted by the Ghanaian and Nigerian Governments, is ‘amazing and a welcome development’. She mentions that Ghanaian-based African World Airlines is unreliable as the airline keeps cancelling flights at short notice. Especially for business travellers, this is a great concern and inconvenience, she explains.
Air Namibia’s entry into Nigeria is a challenge for the Nigerian government, however, according to Adeshola, as the government wants to kickstart a new national carrier. Says Adeshola: “The National carrier is expected to lessen the plight of travellers in the region by making Nigeria a hub where destinations can be connected and employment created for Nigerians.”