Air Namibia is engaged in discussions with leading airlines Fly Emirates, Qatar Airways and Kenyan Airways in a bid to enter new markets and provide its customers with more accessibility globally.
The parastatal’s management has embarked on a turnaround plan with the objective of increasing access for customers to various routes worldwide.
In an interview with The Villager Air Namibia’s Chief Operation Officer (COO), Rene Gsponer, confirmed that the airline is busy exploring partnerships with big airlines.
“We have a co-chairing arrangement with Air Lufthansa and Kenya Airways, then with Turkish Airlines we have a memorandum of understanding,” he said, adding that other airlines to be engaged include Fly Emirates and Qatar Airways.
He said a lot more internationally renowned airlines are looking at airlines such as Air Namibia, which has the International Air Transport Association (IATA) certification, has a new state of the art airfleet and on time performance among other factors.
“The role of Air Namibia going into the mid-term is to feed into two major carriers servicing the Middle East and European routes. We are negotiating an agreement with Kenya Airways and once the agreement is reached, this should be functional by 2015 to fly into Nairobi,” he said.
This, he said, will need to be well-planned for it to benefit of the Namibian people.
Gsponer said it will be inevitable for the airline to incur an initial loss in the range of N$30 million in as far as making substantial inroads into the Nairobi route is concerned.
Under the negotiations for the agreement, Air Namibia would want a loss sharing arrangement for the first year and once the agreement is made with favourable terms to all parties ,then by April next year the route will be operational.
“We also want to extend our co-chairing with Turkish airlines. Co-chairing gives us a true reflection of the market. We will be using our A330 for Frankfurt and through established points in the Middle East,” he said.
The airline plans on leveraging on the Kenyan relationship and using the route as a regional feeding point.
He pointed out the need to feed into strategic points in Europe by taking advantage of the relationship with Lufthansa.
Gsponer said business has been good for the months of July, August, September and October with the company posting an impressive bottom-line consecutively.
“We made monthly profits in the range of just above N$200 million including (revenues derived from) aircraft leasing, and this has never happened in the history of the airline,” he said.
This was largely achieved on the back of a substantial improvement in revenue management as the airline made more money per average ticket.
He said the airline is now in the top 10 global ranking and was now 96% on track in terms of time management and this has served as a plus for us for customer satisfaction.
“We still have other areas where we can make improvements such as at the airport, we are not where we want to be,” he said.
He attributed the impressive bottom-line to optimising on costs with the supplier engagement process being taken a notch higher for the airline to remain on top.
Other initiatives taken include engaging staff on a weekly basis, with an open door policy, where they provide feedback on operations, customer service or the basic frontline services where they feel the firm is lacking.
He said most airline’s average load factor is 77% but Air Namibia has been in the range of 80% across all routes.
Load factor basically measures the capacity utilization of public transport services like airlines and is used to evaluate how efficiently a transport provider fills seats and generates ticket revenue.
The worldwide load factor for the passenger airline industry last year was 79,5% according to IATA.
He extended thanks to the people of Namibia for their loyal support.