Tuesday, August 7, 2012

■ NAMIBIA: Air Namibia in partnership talks with Kenya Airways & Emirates as Ethiopian prepares for possible Windhoek launch.

Air NamibiaAir Namibia (SW) is reportedly in talks with fellow African carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) over the possibility of forming a partnership, reports from Windhoek say with Kenya Airways' CEO Titus Naikuni expected in the Namibian capital sometime this week.

No specific details about the talks were divulged, though Mr Naikuni is quoted as saying:
We will discuss many issues appertaining to what such a partnership entails but among them will be code sharing, which many airlines internationally use. In the case of KQ and other airlines that we have code-sharing relationships with such as Air Mozambique, Air Botswana, Air Malawi and others across Africa and beyond, code sharing opens the whole Skyteam market to airlines via KQ.” 

An Air Namibia Embraer ERJ135
An Air Namibia Embraer ERJ135
In June, the Namibian national carrier was in other talks with Dubai-based Emirates (EK) about the possibility of striking a deal in which Air Namibia would provide onward flights into smaller African destinations not presently served by Emirates. 

In recent months, the Arab megacarrier has expressed interest in developing closer ties with smaller African carriers in a bid to further extend its global reach. A good example of this is Qatar Airways' interline agreement with Tanzania's Precision Air which provides Qatar Airways' passengers with "the ease of one-stop ticketing and baggage check-in" thereby reducing the usual hassles of travelling in Africa - inefficient bureaucracy or simple ineptitude - to a minimum.

The partnership negotiations are part of an IATA endorsed business turnaround plan to transform the loss making state-owned carrier into a profitable entity in five years time thereby making it appealing to private investors. So far, Air Namibia has implemented 3 main strategy changes:

A litmus test for Air Namibia's reforms will likely come in the near future when Ethiopian Airlines starts a service to Windhoek in either October or November of this year, which means Air Namibia's European and Ghanaian routes could potentially come under considerable pressure forcing further route rationalizations in the long term.