Air Namibia to axe Windhoek Maun route: Focus shifts to Vic Falls
After terminating the Gaborone-Windhoek route in 2013, citing low passenger volumes, national carrier Air Namibia will now axe the Maun Windhoek route as of the end of October.
Manager: Corporate Communications of Air Namibia, Paul Nakawa confirmed to the Economist that Air Namibia will indefinitely suspend flights to Maun, Botswana. The Maun route currently is serviced by a Brazilian-made Embraer Jet 135 which seats 37 passengers.
“Air Namibia is in the process of rationalizing its operations, which includes route network and schedule optimization,” he said.
Nakawa said the decision was made to maintain an optimum route network. “Optimum in this case means operating only those routes which make a positive contribution to the route network performance,” he added.
According to Nakawa, at the moment Air Namibia carries about 600 passengers per month (300 each way), close to 96% of whom are tourists from Europe.
“Local traffic origination between Windhoek and Maun is quite small. What we will be doing is deploying the capacity initially allocated to Maun to other routes which have potential for higher revenue and more local traffic such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Most of the people we transport to Maun will still fly with us but to Victoria Falls as the destination,” he said.
“Northern Namibia, northern Botswana and the Vic Falls area of Zimbabwe are just one tourist market and it does not matter much where you drop off the passengers, they will still be visiting the same resorts and game parks,” he added.
He said that instead of operating both into Maun and Vic falls “we will be operating into Vic Falls only (reduce costs from the double drop) but still carry the same tourist traffic into this region famous for its large herds of “Big 5” and other natural wonders such the Okavango Deltas, Vic Falls, Kasane and the entire Zambezi region.
In terms of suspension of other routes, Nakawa said Maun is the only route that has been rationalized and they do not have any other suspensions.
According to Nakawa, Air Namibia decided to delay the suspension till the end of October 2016 to provide ample time for passengers to make changes.
“We are giving the market four months advance notice which is sufficient to allow us and the travellers to make alternative travel arrangements.
Affected passengers are not many given the long advance notice and these will be re-routed via alternate airports which are linked to Maun, Johannesburg being one of them. Those opting for refund will also be assisted as such,” he said.
Meanwhile, in terms of targeting other markets, Nakawa said route and schedule development is an ongoing process in the airline industry.
“We have identified a number of routes which seem to have potential and we will make announcements about these as soon as the required internal governmental approvals have been obtained,” he said.