Air Namibia has asked to be given until the end of this month to produce a detailed financial report of its performance on the Windhoek-Frankfurt route, Works and Transport Permanent Secretary, Willem Goeiemann, said this week.
Goeiemann said he wants to look at the “facts and trends” regarding the route before a decision on whether to scrap it can be made.
Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, last month said the loss-making national carrier is losing more than N$300 million per year on the Windhoek-Frankfurt route.
Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, also said at the time that Treasury had asked the Ministry of Works and Transport to investigate the possibility of discontinuing the Windhoek-Frankfurt route because of the huge losses being incurred.
Schlettwein said the request was part of a process to rein in loss-making State-owned enterprises, adding that his ministry had identified the Windhoek-Frankfurt route as one of the biggest contributors to Air Namibia’s losses.
Goeiemann said this week that many factors should be considered, including the leasing agreements of planes by Air Namibia, before a final decision is made whether to scrap the route or not.
Air Namibia operates the Windhoek-Frankfurt route using two Airbus A330-200 aircraft leased from US-based lessor Intrepid Aviation.
Last week, Air Namibia spokesperson, Paul Nakawa, said the Windhoek-Frankfurt route is Air Namibia’s flagship route, as it offers easy access for European travellers.
He argued that since logistics is one of the driving forces of Namibia’s Fifth Development Plan, which was launched last week, an international route for the national carrier was pivotal.
He added that Namibia’s endeavour to “position itself as a logistics hub in the southern African region and further afield as well as an important selling point to attract foreign investment into the country, begins and ends with the national carrier having an international route at its disposal”.
“It also signifies that Air Namibia runs a fleet of aircraft that fulfil the stringent rules and regulation of the global aviation industry, something very few African-based national airlines can claim,” Nakawa further said.
Condor Airline, Air Berlin and Lufthansa also offer flights between Germany and Namibia, but Nakawa argued that many airlines operated into Windhoek from Europe before, but pulled out when they saw that they cannot be profitable.
“For Namibia to abandon the route, hoping that foreign-based airlines will fill the gap permanently will be suicidal because when these airlines see that it is not viable they will eventually pull out, as many have done before,” Nakawa said.