Ethiopian Airlines are the first airline to down at Hosea Kutako International Airport, (HKIA) as ET-0835 landed on Friday afternoon with 54 people as Namibia opened her skies amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Following about five months of closed borders, Namibia opened her flagship airport in Windhoek as part of the Tourism Revival Initiative that will see international flights resuming routes into Namibia and the first airline to respond is Ethiopian Airlines on 11 September 2020.
At a special event to mark this resumption of flights, Chairperson of The Board of Directors of Namibia Airports Company, Dr Leake Hangala, expressed gratitude as Ethiopian Airlines landed with 43 passengers and 11 crew members from their hub in Addis Ababa.
“Today, we are excited to have the Ethiopian Airways touched down on the Namibian soil just a while ago. This is a manifestation of the Namibian Government’s commitment to revive the economic opportunities. It is also a concrete indication that airports are engines of economic growth, wealth and employment creation”, Dr. Hangala says.
Dr Hangala adds that Airport businesses are highly dependent on passenger volumes and that globally, passenger movements declined by almost 80% whereas on the African continent they declined up to 95% due to travel bans and lockdowns restrictions as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Similarly, the cargo traffic also contracted as a result of overall weakness in the economy. As such the decline in traffic movements affected the financial situation of worlds airports which culminated in direct and indirect job losses. Undoubtedly, all those negative effects will negatively hampering the recovery of the entire aviation eco system”.
Despite this bleak reality, Dr Hangala is optimistic. “With the gradual opening of our borders, other airlines such as Air Namibia, the national carrier, Lufthansa, Qatar have already expressed their readiness to resume with flight operations at our flagship airport. This will positively increase passenger movements which will contribute meaningfully to the economic activities at the airport and the tourism industry in line with the objectives of the tourism revival initiative”.
NAC has put in place various measure to ensure safety amid the pandemic.
“We would like to re-assure the flying public that your safety is very close to our hearts and that is why we have put in place vigorous and appropriate measures to ensure adherence to COVID-19 Protocols. These measures speak to among others, the mandatory wearing of masks, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and increased hygiene. In order to avoid inconveniences, we are calling upon all our esteemed passengers to arrive at least three hours earlier at the airport”.
Ms Tsige Gebresilassie, Ethiopian Airlines Area Manager – Namibia, Ms Tsige Gebresilassie, Area Manager for Ethiopian Airways also expressed her company’s appreciation of Namibia open skies.
“Continuing its effort, Ethiopian has reinstated its flight to countries where travel restrictions have been minimized or lifted. Windhoek is amongst the destinations we are proudly serving with modern aircraft. We are very much grateful to the government of Namibian for giving us the permission to reinstate the passenger services and we prefer to keep our scheduled flights intact and hope the government will continue its support to create conducive environment”.
Gebresilassie, adds that they are also implementing all health protocols as required by the World Health Organisation.
“I assure you that Ethiopian will serve you by implementing all the necessary health and safety measures set by WHO and other pertinent organizations to ensure the safety of our passengers, crew & the citizens of republic of Namibia.
Ethiopian Airlines is a pioneer in African aviation and has been in service for more than 74 years; this makes Ethiopian among the longest serving carriers in the world. Indeed, Ethiopian is the largest and leading airline in Africa, and it is among the major global network operators.
Windhoek is among the 62 destinations in Africa Ethiopian has been serving. Since launching its first flight to Windhoek in 2016, Ethiopian has been providing four weekly passenger services connecting Namibia to various countries in Africa and the rest of the world.