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Forum aims to revive domestic aviation

2022-08-22  Maihapa Ndjavera

Forum aims to revive domestic aviation

The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) says it is determined to champion the narrative, lead the charge toward the transformation of the Namibian aviation industry and position it as a driver for a thriving domestic economy.

 Last week, NAC board chairperson Leake Hangala said the national airport operator is engaging government to see how they can improve the country’s airports infrastructure. 

This engagement includes looking at the aprons and taxiways at Hosea Kutako International Airport and Ondangwa airport, respectively, as well as building new terminal buildings at Katima Mulilo and Rundu airports.

Hangala made these remarks last week during the launch of the Namibia Aviation and Connectivity Forum. The forum is slated for 16 to 18 November 2022 and is in the follow-up of this event that a white paper and subsequent structural and policy reforms will be generated. 

According to the NAC, the aim of the forum is to charter a new and enduring but sustainable vision for the Namibian aviation industry. 

“The forum will also be about remedying any past mistakes, learning from others and thinking outside the box as we map a new future for aviation and related sectors in the country,” Hangala stated. 

He added the forum will also seek to further strengthen the marriage between aviation and tourism in order to maximise their economic potential. 

Furthermore, the board chairperson stated one of the challenges of the aviation industry is that barriers to entry are very high in terms of capital required, skills and infrastructure that need to be in place and adherence to international safety and security standards. 

Hangala noted the demise of Air Namibia is one of the most devastating events that happened in the sector.

 “Its demise has resulted in a number of our people losing jobs and the country losing its national flag carrier. Losing Air Namibia has also resulted in the loss of domestic competition.” 

He called on the forum to look at how the industry can bring back a national airline packaged in such a manner that it is financially viable, operationally efficient, and one that will contribute to domestic and regional competition and thereby providing consumers with a choice. 

“I also believe that having more than one player in the domestic market will result in aviation being affordable and accessible. With the envisaged green hydrogen industry, development of our oil and gas industry as well as the development of other sectors, including tourism, will need a competitive and vibrant aviation sector. Such a national airline can be built on the principle of Public Private Partnership (PPP),” detailed Hangala.

At the same event, the chairperson of the forum steering committee, Bisey /Uirab, stated the forum will take lessons from the challenges of the sector through first-hand accounts from those who have been there and gone through it across the region, experts in various subject matters, as well as various technical working groups. 

He said the positivity that could be extracted from the last two years of Covid-19 in aviation is the fact that there is an opportunity to rethink the status quo. 

“Business as usual will only leave us vulnerable again, and it’s time to use the industry reset to build back better and create a more sustainable and resilient industry,” said /Uirab.

Launching the forum, transport minister John Mutorwa said the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents an opportunity for Namibia as a logistics hub. He said the sector is intent on becoming a key player to drive trade and business across the African continent in the area of AfCFTA.

“We recognise that air transport is a critical part of the logistics value chain that will drive our role in this,” noted Mutorwa.

2022-08-22  Maihapa Ndjavera

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