State-owned airline Air Namibia has be given approval to fly in and out of the United States, allowing it to join the ranks of an exclusive set of African carriers with permission to do so.
Previously, only South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air, Moroccan Royal Air Maroc and Cape Verde’s TACV airline have enjoyed the right to fly passengers in and out of the U.S. from Africa.
The notoriously loss-making airline is expecting to generate revenues through its codesharing agreements with partners to the U.S., as well as thanks to their new certification to fly to any EU member state, according to CNBCAfrica.
Air Namibia managing director, Mandi Samson, said the airline received its foreign air carrier permit in April, and now the U.S. permit will allow the carrier to boost ticket sales through new fellow airlines with which they have partnerships.
“This approval will be used for revenue generation out of the USA in collaboration with our codeshare partners and this brings to an end the days when Air Namibia could not book and issue tickets for flights to and from the USA,” Samson said, according to Namibian daily newspaper New Era.
Samson also explained that three new flights to African destinations would be added during the course of 2017, with government approval sought before an official announcement is made.
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“We are just waiting governmental approvals, then announcement would follow,” she said.
Recently Namibian finance minister Calle Schlettwein called for the international route between Windhoek and Frankfurt to be cut, pointing to airline losses of around $2.27 million per year on the route, according to AllAfrica.
Many industry insiders and those employed in the tourism industry have been against the proposal, suggesting that it would negatively affect the tourism sector in Namibia, which is the biggest revenue generator for the economy after mining.
A report presented recently by Air Namibia’s board explained that the airline’s contribution to the Namibian economy will grow substantially in years to come through new services, such as the approval to fly to the U.S.
The report by the UK-based Oxford Economics projected that by 2020/21, the number of visitors flying to the country via Air Namibia will be more than 230,000.
The report suggests that the GDP contribution from visitor spending is expected to grow to around $129 million, sustaining 7,700 jobs in the Namibian economy and raising over $33 million in tax revenues, according to NewsGhana.
In 2015/16 the airline’s contribution to the economy amounted to over $53 million, the report revealed.