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Air Namibia in new code share talks

The national airline, Air Namibia has entered into code share negotiations with at least two European-based airlines following the “success” of a similar partnership with Kenya Airways signed earlier in the year.
The airline said negotiations with the two unnamed European airlines are at an advanced stage, but said details of the agreements will only be announced once negotiations have been completed.
Air Namibia currently has two code share agreements with state-owned TAAG Angolan Airlines and Kenya Airways.
Spokesperson Paul Nakawa told The Economist that although it was difficult to find willing partners due to the small nature of Air Namibia’s operations, management of the airline had made a conscious decision to pursue partnerships where they see mutual benefits.
Nakawa said: “It is not easy to always find a code share partner willing to engage with you. At the same time an airline should only engage in code share agreements which will bring real value as not every code share agreement adds value.
 So we are careful on whom we partner with. Partnering with other airlines for mutual benefit is in our strategy going forward and you will see a few more code share agreements being entered into as we move on.”
The airline last week said it has seen an increase in passenger numbers and revenue after signing a code share agreement with Kenya Airways in June. Prime Minister Hage Geingob also recently announced in parliament that Air Namibia had reduced its operating losses to N$69 million in the first six months of the year compared to N$323 million in the corresponding period last year after generating N$782 million in revenue compared to N$644 million over the same period in 2012. Xavier Masule, Air Namibia’s general manager for commercial services attributed the  better performance to a number of initiatives contained in the airline’s business plan implemented thus far, that have started to bear fruit. He said: “Unfortunately this is a long term business and some of the decisions taken three years ago or so are only starting to show fruits now. Our re-fleeting programme has yielded good levels of operational efficiencies and reliability. This together with improved back office efficiency have restored market confidence and we are able to recapture lost make share in some of the markets. We are offering a good service, the market sees it and the market is responding positively.”
Masule said the airline was in a much better shape than it was late last year. He said a pilot strike that lasted for 21 days, and near industrial action by NATAU had affected the airline considerably.
“ Last year NAFTAU threatened to go on strike. The threats started from beginning of September 2012 to end of October 2012, and during this whole period many travellers avoided Air Namibia due to the uncertainty from the strike threat, and our sales went down.
 As if that was not enough, the pilots went on strike as soon as the NATAU near-strike situation was averted.
 The strike lasted for about 21 days in November to December and sales dropped as we could not sell anything.
We are in much better shape this year than last year, this on top of improved service offering, efficiency improvements and improved positioning in the market.” Going forward, Masule was, however, cautiously optimistic about revenue growth.
“The business we are in has seasonality patterns, so from December into February next year we will enter low season and then up to shoulder season by March next year. So the revenue levels could match or will slightly be lower than the first six months of this year, but they will definitely be higher than the same period last year.”

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