Air Namibia has started the descent
By Tan Ahmed
Director Nextjet operations
What goes up must come down. This is normal and good for the airplanes but not for the airlines. Air Namibia has been walking on the tight rope for many years now. Unfortunately the main reason behind the failures were bad management (sadly corruption) and the involvement by government.
In airline business you need to invest millions to make pennies so it is very hard to make decision when you are running on a fine thin line, where just a small decision can make or break it. If you look around in the neighboring countries they all are facing the same dilemma and unfortunately they have common reason for failure.
While all the airlines in Southern African coutries are going down other airlines from North and Gulf countries are scooping up all the traffic.
Africa is one of the booming area for aviation with tons of opportunities. Sadly these opportunities are picked up by foreign carriers instead of local ones. For any business when it comes to trim the staff it should always start from top not the bottom, because people sitting on the top make wrong decisions and that make the whole workforce of the company to suffer.
Air Namibia can learn the lesson from its neighboring countries who are filled with doomed airlines owned and backed by the governments. This is a business and should run as a business without any preferences or interferences.
If you look at the past of Air Namibia, a word “CORRUPTION” and “FRAUD” was in news a lot.
Based on my first hand experience with African carriers hierarchy and red tape was number one hurdle for anyone involved with it.
It is a sad reality but so true and sad to see how well regarded and managed airlines came down by wrong people involved.
Air Namibia to review their business model and should look what can be done. First and the most important thing is fare. Are their fares competitive with other airlines? The answer is NO, just an example on average you can fly to Frankfurt on a Gulf Carrier US$300 to US$400 cheaper
than Air Namibia. Sure, they take extra 10 or so hours but at the end cheap flights will prevail.
Currently Air Namibia is using Airbus and Embraer Jets. Embraer Jets are the perfect fit for Air Namibia and they should keep them more in the air and expand their frequency and offer competitive fares to get more traffic. Airbus 330 is a great and efficient aircraft for long haul flights. Current schedule should be around Frankfurt flight so it can take more traffic from neighboring countries.
I will repeat myself again, price and travel time will always prevail. So they have to be competitive on their prices.
London as a new destination that has a big community from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana. Air Namibia needs to expand their foot print in these countries and advertise heavily to get traffic from there.
Air Namibia has more aircrafts than its routes. They can utilize these aircrafts by exploring new routes and staying competitive with other airlines.
To be successful they should separate all the arms and let them run as a business and targets to meet. They should create a well knowledged salesand marketing team who not only market Air Namibia locally but internationally to increase their revenues. Separate the engineering department and let them explore the opportunies to offer maintenance services outside Air Namibia, this will not only generate revenue but will create more jobs too.
Create a charter division within Air Namibia so they can offer charter services to other airlines. This is the most profitable business in Africa.
Currently there are few companies in South Africa that offers charter services and Air Namibia can be part of charter industry. To be successful in charter, they need to hire good charter sales staff so they can explore the charter market in and around Africa.
In my opinion all the above suggestions can put Air Namibia on the path of success IF there is NO CORRUPTION and NO KICKBACKS. Without accountability and audits no company can be successful.
In the airline business it works like a circle, you start with small radius and grow from there. There is a huge potential in Namibia and Air Namibia, it has great employees who are knowledgable and can compete with any international counterparts.
We all want to see their aircrafts in the air with Namibian flag flying high.