President Geingob tells Air Namibia to shape up or ship out

President Geingob tells Air Namibia to shape up or ship out
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President Hage Geingob has issued a stern warning to the national airline, Air Namibia, to pull-up its socks or face competition should Namibia become part of the Single Air Transport Market agreement.
Geingob noted that Namibia, being a member of the African Union, should adhere to continental integration, including opening of the airways for trade.
On Monday 23 January, AU member states launched a single aviation market to liberalise air travel on the continent but Namibia put it on hold.
In a wide ranging interview with NBC News, President Geingob said Namibia’s decision to consult stakeholders on joining the single market should not be seen as government aiding the financially-crippled Air Namibia.
It has become unsustainable, the Namibian leader added, for government to bail out and protect Air Namibia in the competitive aviation sector.
In the last seven years, Air Namibia has received over N $4 billion from government in bailouts.
Geingob said that as 2018 is the year of reckoning, the airline's management must account for funds and ensure that the company becomes profitable or risk closing down.
Possible job loses are a consideration for government, he said.
New comers such as Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways have entered the Namibian skies as alternatives on regional and international routes.
The Works and Transport Ministry noted that that if Namibia is to become part of the single market, it will have an impact on Air Namibia's operations at local airports.
The national airline would be required to share traffic rights at airports because the agreement eliminates restrictions of ownership among participating African airlines.
Another would be scrambling for travelers as air fares are expected to decrease by 35%.
SADC member-states such as South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe are part of the 23 countries that signed up to open up air space to other African lines.