By: Selma Taapopi
An independent South African-based airline , Airlink and a local privately owned domestic flight carrier, Fly Namibia , entered into a partnership that is expected to accelerate Namibia's post-pandemic recovery and drive the expansion of efficient scheduled airline services to, from, and within Namibia.
Through this partnership, Airlink acquired a 40% strategic equity holding in Fly Namibia, which will enable the locally based airline to access a wider global network to the benefit of tourists and Namibian residents.
The agreement will also see Fly Namibia adopt Airlink’s “4Z” International Air Transport Association (IATA) designator for its ticket sales and scheduled flights, while retaining its unique corporate identity.
As a result Fly Namibia’s inventory will gain higher visibility and the company will be promoted on Airlink’s computerised reservation system, as well as on those of major foreign airlines that have partnered with Airlink.
Namibia Airports Company (NAC) board chairperson Leake Hangala, welcomed the partnership noting that it opens up more opportunities for the country's aviation industry, such as increased domestic airline capacity.
"Naturally Namibia will embrace anything that increases the frequency of travel, anything that will make travel by air affordable, reliable and that will also hopefully increase connectivity to different parts of our country and definitely to the regions" noted Hangala.
Hangala stated that any increase in domestic airline capacity is something that NAC will appreciate as it will increase job creation and traffic to the airports. "Therefore this is a welcomed venture by the airports company to Namibia, and we congratulate both Fly Namibia as well as Airlink and wish them the best in this venture", noted Hangala.
Airlink serves over 45 destinations in 13 countries throughout Southern Africa, inlcuding Madagascar. The airline has a growing fleet of over 60 aeroplanes, operating 75 000 flights per year, and a staff complement of 1 850. The partnership between the two airlines will come into effect as soon as possible, after which all existing bookings for FlyNamibia flights will be amended at no cost or inconvenience to customers.
Airlink will also provide additional airline operations, technical and commercial skills training and development support for FlyNamibia.
Speaking at the event , Airlink Chief Executive officer (CEO) and Managing Director , Rodger Foster, reflected on the impact of international interests in Namibia's oil, gas and Green Hydrogen industries. Foster said that interest in Namibia's economic developments in more recent times has expanded to include not only tourism but also the oil and gas and your green hydrogen initiatives which are set to change Namibians livelihoods on a wholesale basis.
Fly Namibia Managing Director Andre Compion, remarked that in order for the country to realise its full economic potential, Namibia will depend increasingly on air connectivity to move people and goods between markets.
He added that by joining hands with Airlink and becoming part of its global network, Fly Namibia will be better able to serve foreign and local tourists and businesses. "We are getting the most substantial partner in Southern Africa to partner with, it will give us access to their whole distribution system which they've compiled jointly with major international carriers which enables us as you saw on the route network, to then virtually service any destination from Southern Africa to any destination worldwide. So it really gives us access to a system which will allow us to bring more people into the country and distribute them more effectively in the country which we didn't have before", said Compion.