Thursday, June 7, 2012

Air Namibia optimistic about growth in Zimbabwe Routes!

Air Namibia is optimistic about the growth prospects in terms of passengers on the Windhoek-Harare route, which it re-introduced mid last month after 13 years. The airline is using a 37-seater Brazilian-made Embraer ERJ-135 twin-jet aircraft to service the route.
Air Namibia's country manager for Zimbabwe, Mr Forbes Zaranyika, said they were encouraged by the volume of business they have been attracting since the re-introduction of the route.
"Our load factor has been averaging 40 percent and rising to about 80 percent in some instances which is quite good given that we have just re-introduced this route," he said. The load factor is the ratio of passengers per available seat on an aeroplane.
Mr Zaranyika said there has been an encouraging response from Zimbabweans travelling to Walvis Bay to collect their vehicles imported mainly from the United Kingdom. In addition, he said Zimbabwean professionals working in Namibia have also welcomed the introduction of the route as it offers a convenient means for them to travel between Harare and Windhoek.
"We are very encouraged by the response that we have been getting and we are looking at the possibility of introducing daily flights in the near future. We are also looking at the possibility of introducing morning and evening flights," he said.
The airline is flying into Zimbabwe four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and daily between Windhoek and Victoria Falls.
Mr Zaranyika said the airline stands ready to facilitate the cultural, political and business synergies that are being concluded between the two countries through the provision of a fast and reliable airline service.
Air Namibia's general manager commercial services, Mr Xavier Masule, who is in the country, said they have seen a growth in the number of passengers using the Harare-Windhoek route to connect to other destinations like West Africa and Cape Town.
"We have created synergies with Kenya Airways to carry passengers proceeding beyond Harare and we hope to conclude more synergies with other airlines to provide convenience for our passengers.
"We have seen the crystallisation of the ideas we had when we introduced this route. We hope to continue providing a comfortable and safe mode of transport for people intending to explore Namibia for business and leisure," he said.
He added that they were in the process of setting up an office in Harare that will be manned by a nine-member team made up of Zimbabweans.
"At the moment we have a three-member team headed by Mr Zaranyika that is currently operating from Meikles Hotel while we wait to move to our new offices at Joina City. Recruitment of additional staff is ongoing," he said.
Mr Masule said while they have been striving to grow their business as an airline they have been affected by high fuel costs, which they have had to absorb as passing on the costs to passengers would make the cost of travel prohibitive.
He added that the eurozone financial crisis has also seen travellers from Europe cutting down on long-haul flights and international airlines shifting their focus to Africa where the volumes of people travelling abroad has been increasing resulting in competition for African airlines.
"As African airlines we are not taking this lying down we are determined to grab opportunities as they come," he said.