The national carrier of Namibia, Air Namibia, has suspended its Windhoek-Lagos-Accra flight services.
The airline announced the indefinite suspension of the four times weekly flight operations on Friday.
Although the airline’s Nigerian office has yet to issue an official statement on the development, sources told our correspondent that the suspension was due to diplomatic issues from Namibia.
One of the sources said, “There are some diplomatic issues that need to be resolved with the Namibian authorities. The issue has nothing to do with the high commission in Nigeria but with the high commission and immigration in Namibia.”
According to the source, the authorities have commenced diplomatic engagement to have the issues resolved, adding that there were no issues from the Nigerian end.
“Presently, Nigerians going to Namibia have no issues with processing visas but airlines look at profitability; you can’t be filling the aircraft from this side and flights from that side are empty, so these are issues that need to be resolved from that side,” the source added.
A statement from the airline’s headquarters in Windhoek, however, quoted Air Namibia’s acting General Manager, Commercial Services, Wimpie van Vuuren, as saying that a recent ban on issuance of Nigerian visas to Namibians could be linked to allegations that Nigerians were ill-treated by Namibian border control officials at Hosea Kutako International Airport when arriving or transiting through Windhoek.
He said the airline consulted various stakeholders to mitigate the diplomatic standoff “but all efforts proved futile.”
The Manager, Corporate Communications of the airline, Mr Paul Nakawa, was also quoted to have said Air Namibia decided to suspend this route for an indefinite period in order to mitigate the related safety, non-compliance and commercial risks.
“Affected passengers will be assisted by accommodating them on flights operated by our partner airlines at Air Namibia’s cost, or they will be refunded if they opt not to fly anymore,” he said.
Air Namibia inaugurated the Windhoek-Lagos-Accra route in June 2018 to provide a direct service connecting Namibia to the two West African countries.
The airline had said it would provide inbound and outbound connections to its regional flights, connecting West Africa via Windhoek to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Luanda, Harare, Lusaka, Vic Falls, Gaborone Walvis Bay and Durban.