Two more Airbus
Air Namibia has issued a timeline for the delivery of its two brand new Airbus A330-200 aircraft acquired as part of a fleet modernisation programme.
The national carrier announced earlier this week that one of the two brand new aircraft, to be leased from commercial aircraft lessor Intrepid Aviation, will be delivered this September. The second aircraft is expected sometime in November 2013.
The two aircraft will be used primarily on Air Namibia’s long haul route between Windhoek and Frankfurt. It is understood that the two brand new aircraft will replace the old Airbus A340-300 aircraft used for the Frankfurt route where Air Namibia currently flies four times a week. This is set to increase to a daily service as from 28 June 2013 as the high season for European visitors to Southern Africa commences at the beginning of July.
Acting MD Michael Ngapurue said the Airbus A330-200 aircraft is ideal for Air Namibia’s operation and continues to be an economically efficient aircraft for airlines around the world. He said the introduction of the new aircraft will improve the airline’s on-board hard product (seats and inflight entertainment system) significantly, adding that this will contribute to meeting customer needs more optimally, while giving Air Namibia lower operating cost advantages.
The A330-200 planes will come in a seat configuration of 244 seats, of which 30 are in business class and 214 in the economy class. Business Class seats will be full flat while all seats in the aircraft including economy class will have video/audio on demand with individual monitors for each passenger.
The current A340-300 has a seat capacity of 278 seats compared to the new A330-200 which has 244 seats. The new aircraft will reduce available seats by 34 seats or 12% of the current capacity, however, the old aircraft have brought some financial headaches to the airline’s chiefs after frequently going for unscheduled as well as scheduled maintenance.
Due to consumer protection rights laws in Europe, any delays or cancellations of flights on Air Namibia’s Frankfurt route has a financial impact on the airline. European laws compel airlines to compensate passengers in case of delays or denied boarding. According to Regulation EC 261, if an airline delays or denies boarding to a passenger, it may pay up to 600 euros per passenger affected.
Paul Nakawa, Manager for Corporate Communications at Air Namibia told the Economist that the Frankfurt route where the old A340-300 aircraft is used represents the route with the heaviest cost impact when delays occur.
Nakawa explained: “Just to illustrate the extent of the risk associated with using a plane that frequently goes for maintenance checks. Suppose we have a delay for 12 hours, with the current old aircraft having full passengers of 278 (not every one claims anyway but just in case everybody decides to claim), the total exposure is Euro 600.00 x 278 = N$2,1 million for one flight.”
He said the new Airbus A330-200 aircraft with its high technical dispatch reliability, will mean less or fewer technical delays therefore reducing significantly the risk of having to pay the European Union consumer protection rights penalties which will bring further potential savings to the airline.
It is however, not clear whether the cost savings of the A330-200 far outweigh the effect of the reduced capacity in terms of number of seats offered.