The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) intends to invest over N$1.3 billion in infrastructure development across all eight airports in the country within the next five years to improve compliance, operational efficiency and revenue generation.
NAC CEO Bisey /Uirab yesterday explained that N$250 million being pumped into Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) is aimed at creating a southern African hub for world-class airlines. During a progress report on HKIA’s renovations, which at end of January 2021 stood at 75%, /Uirab said: “These projects are meant to address immediate safety and security concerns at the two airports as well as the congestion situation, particularly at HKIA.”
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic challenges that have decimated global and regional air travel, /Uirab said over N$174 million was invested in the Eros and HKIA projects in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years, specifically N$154 million on HKIA and N$20 million on Eros.
At a time when global air travel passenger is at an all-time low, /Uirab confirmed that government assisted in terms of funding for NAC to seamlessly execute the projects. But NAC still requires another N$143 million for capital expenditure projects planned within the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.
These funds are to be sourced from local financial institutions.
Meanwhile, the HKIA expansion project includes two business lounges, forex banks, duty-free shops, more immigration counters and more retail spaces to diversify shopping.
NAC spokesperson Dan Kamati said the HKIA completion date has been shifted to March 2021 for terminal two, which is the arrival point, while June 2021 is the anticipated date for terminal one to be transformed to cater for domestic flights.
“We aim to attract more international passenger and aircraft traffic from across the globe, including Asia and the Americas, and also to ensure that HKIA is in full compliance with national and international safety and security standards,” said /Uirab.
More projects lined up include the HKIA apron expansion, estimated at N$70 million, HKIA CUTE system at N$16 million and the Ondangwa apron rehabilitation at N$16 million.
Also, Katima Mulilo runway holding action (N$32 million), the Walvis Bay airside boundary wall (N$10 million), Walvis Bay electronic equipment (N$4 million) and HKIA road upgrade (N$4 million) include some of the upgrades across the country.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently called 2020 “a catastrophe” for global air travel.
“There is no other way to describe it. What recovery there was over the Northern hemisphere summer season stalled in autumn and the situation turned dramatically worse over the year-end holiday season, as more severe travel restrictions were imposed in the face of new outbreaks and new strains of Covid-19,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO during a recent briefing.
IATA’s full-year global passenger traffic results for 2020 showed that demand fell by 65.9%, compared to the full year of 2019, which was by far the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history.
Also, international passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6% below 2019 levels and domestic demand in 2020 was down 48.8%, compared to 2019.
IATA’s baseline forecast for 2021 is for a 50.4% improvement on 2020 demand that would bring the industry to 50.6% of 2019 levels. While this view remains unchanged, there is a severe downside risk if more severe travel restrictions in response to new virus variants persist.
Should such a scenario materialise, IATA expects demand improvement could be limited to just 13% over 2020 levels, leaving the industry at 38% of 2019 levels.