Air Namibia passengers happy with Airbus A319-100 regional aircraft
The decision by Air Namibia to buy two new Airbus A319-100 aircraft is beginning to reap dividends for the airline in some of its regional routes as the national carrier is seeing a steady increase in customer satisfaction levels as well as passenger numbers.
Air Namibia now operates four Airbus A319-100 planes on its regional routes, covering flights between Windhoek, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Luanda and Accra. Passengers who have had the opportunity to fly on the Air Namibia Airbus A319-100 fleet, two of which were received from the Airbus Hamburg Assembly plant during January and March 2013, have expressed their satisfaction with the aircraft use.
Passengers are particularly happy with the much improved level of reliability as these aircraft are new and technically fit to operate with minimal break-downs. The inside of the planes is clean and very neat, legroom is adequate in both business and economy class, and the flight stewardess are professional and friendly.
This reporter recently flew on the Windhoek to Cape Town flight. The plane was full in both business class and economy class, a sign that the national airline is now acceptable to the public unlike in the past when it operated old planes which were continuously having technical problems. An official with the airline manning the Cape Town offices said they have seen a steady increase in passenger numbers in recent months on the Cape Town to Windhoek route where the airline operates two flights daily; one in the morning and one in the evening. The official said, the airline is particularly busy during weekends, where they are always fully booked. She advised passengers to book well in advance of their travel dates to avoid disappointment of the flight being full, forcing them to travel on alternate days.
Passengers interviewed by the Economist said they were happy with the new aircraft as it has less turbulence and is more comfortable. They were also happy with the reduced noise levels while on-board.
Windhoek resident, Robyn Damaschke said she was impressed with the improvements. She said: “Air Namibia is a huge improvement on what it used to be; food, services, everything, much better.”
Young entrepreneur, Frans Bwalya, a frequent flyer with Air Namibia who was travelling from Cape Town on a business trip said the new Airbus A319-100 has brought peace of mind whenever he travels. Bwalya said: It’s [Air Namibia’s A319-100 aircraft] a beautiful thing. Comfortable, no turbulence, no noise, no funny stuff. I think it’s money well spent on this aircraft; it is worth it. For us frequent flyers, at least you get that sense of comfort and security. Previously, we would always be scared of turbulence. I think this aircraft is ok.”
Another passenger, Alessia Araujo said the A319-100 was less bumpy, much smoother and more comfortable. “I think it’s much better; I am pretty chilled,” she said. Powered by CFM International’s CFM56-5B6/3 engines, the new A319-100 aircraft were bought to replace the ageing Boeing B737 fleet and complement two other Airbus A319-100 aircraft already in use since October 2011 through a lease agreement from a financial institution based in Germany. They have a total seat capacity of 112 seats: 16 Business Class and 96 Economy Class. Seating arrangement in business class is a classic two by two format, with no middle seats, affording business class passengers sufficient comfort, and good value for money. In economy class, seating follows a classic narrow-body three by three configuration.
Officials from Air Namibia are on record saying they settled for the Airbus A319-100 from the various options they had to select from because the aircraft was found to be best-suited for our environment and market situation, primarily looking at correct cabin size, given the demand on the various routes where it will be deployed, cost effectiveness, commonality with the Airbus A340-300 used on the long haul flight to Frankfurt, dispatch reliability record, as well as new generation design and technology.
With this level of improvement, which the national airline has committed to maintain consistently, it will be no surprise if Air Namibia wins again the “Best Regional Airline” Award for excellence in customer service standards as the airline is returning to its former glory days of excellent customer service delivery.