Despite much speculation, Air Namibia has set the record straight regarding its operations and interpretation of Cabinet resolutions on measures to strengthen Namibia’s preparedness and response to the Covid-19. The national airline has reiterated it is in full conformity with government’s resolutions.
According to Air Namibia’s manager for corporate communications Paul Nakawa, the national airline’s inbound and outbound flights to South Africa and other countries in the region will continue to operate until further notice. Nakawa noted that so far, RSA is not amongst the countries listed by the GRN as “high risk” countries.
Air Namibia has, however, suspended the Windhoek to Frankfurt route since Saturday, 14 March 2020, for 30 days. This route has for years been the Air Namibia’s most lucrative but the airline was left with no option but to suspend the services due to the spread of the virus in Europe and elsewhere.
According to recent Cabinet resolutions, South African borders, including air travel, are to remain open to serve as points of entry for Namibians returning home and an exit point for visitors from Namibia, and to facilitate trade between the two countries.
“The airline remains on high alert and conformity with all safety measures implemented. All passengers will be subjected to extensive screening on arrival,” said Nakawa.
Meanwhile, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has again called on African governments to support African airlines in this time of crisis. In a statement sent this week, AFRAA’s secretary general Abderahmane Berthe said the adverse influence of the pandemic is being felt in its entirety by the African continent, and the aviation industry is amongst the worst impacted.
Berthe noted that an increasing number of countries are closing their borders and imposing quarantine measures to protect lives across the continent. However, he pointed out that the unintended consequences of these measures are that demand for air travel has drastically reduced to the extent that airlines are forced to cancel some of their flights.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is a serious threat to the airline industry. African air carriers have grounded many of their aircraft due to a sharp decline in passenger demand. These exceptional circumstances in extraordinary downtime require urgent, immediate and consistent assistance for the survival of airlines. Therefore, we would like to humbly request that African governments consider the compensation of inevitable losses, the alleviation of exogenous operating costs, and the subsidisation of the African airlines,” said Berthe.
Meanwhile, South African Airways (SAA) on Friday confirmed the immediate suspension of all international operations until 31 May 2020 in response to a South African government travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of the corona.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and attendant travel restrictions resulted in substantial decline in demand for air travel. The situation caused many airlines across the world to ground aircraft, release their employees, and to cancel flights. In the case of SAA, this decision means that SAA will only render services on its regional and domestic routes,” read a statement from SAA.
Following the declaration of the state of disaster after the outbreak of the virus in South Africa, the government announced a travel ban and issued regulations, which introduced certain measures aimed at combatting the spread or transmission of the virus.
SAA operates in three markets that form part of countries listed in the travel ban as high-risk areas. These are the United States (Washington DC and New York, JFK), the United Kingdom (London, Heathrow) and Germany (Frankfurt and Munich). In addition, SAA operates flights to Australia (Perth) and Brazil (São Paulo) which have not been declared high-risk – all of which are now cancelled.
“In support of efforts by government to deal with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020. It is all our responsibility, not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus. In addition, the increasing risks to our crew of contracting the virus, including the possibility of being trapped in foreign destinations as a consequence of increasing travel bans, cannot be ignored,” said SAA Acting CEO Zuks Ramasia.
“We also recognise the fluidity in the conditions we operate in and the need to respond to these changes with speed; to this end, we commit to keep all our stakeholders abreast of any changes on an ongoing basis,” said Ramasia.
2020-03-23 07:57:45 | 14 days ago