Air Namibia suspends flight to Nigeria

Air Namibia suspends flight to Nigeria

The national airline of the Republic of Namibia, Air Namibia, on Friday suspended its Windhoek–Lagos–Accra flight with immediate effect.

The suspension came barely one year after the launch of the flight.

The airline, in a statement announcing the suspension on Friday, said the route, which was launched in June 2018, started off well with impressive load factors.

However, the statement indicated that in February 2019, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia banned the issuing of visas to Namibian passport holders.

It said in addition, there were messages circulating in Nigeria about Namibia being “anti-Nigeria”, with travelers being urged to avoid visiting Namibia, as well as avoid using Windhoek as a transit point when travelling to South Africa.

Acting General Manager Commercial Services of the airline, Wimpie van Vuuren was quoted in the statement as saying that the ban on issuing Nigerian visas to Namibians could be linked to allegations that Nigerians are normally ill-treated by Namibian border control officials at Hosea Kutako International Airport when arriving or transiting through Windhoek.

According to him, Air Namibia consulted various stakeholders to mitigate the diplomatic standoff “but all efforts proved futile”. 

The development therefore reduced the load factor on the route since many Namibians could not secure visas to come to Nigeria.

The load factor, it said, dropped from average 55 per cent attained during June 2018 to January 2019, to between 35 per cent and 38 per cent during February to April 2019.

The airline’s Corporate Communications Manager, Paul Nakawa, said Air Namibia decided to suspend the flight indefinitely “in order to mitigate the related safety, non-compliance and commercial risks”. 

“Affected passengers will be assisted by accommodating them on flights operated by our partner airlines at Air Namibia’s cost, or they will be refunded if they opt not to fly anymore,” he added.