NATIONAL carrier Air Namibia is operating at close to zero revenue generation and has thus far lost N$100 million in revenue for the past four weeks of lockdown.
Air Namibia's acting managing director Elia Erastus revealed this yesterday at the Covid-19 Communication Centre in Windhoek and said the airline normally makes N$100 million a month. He said the Covid-19-induced lockdown and closing of air space has left the already struggling airline operating under very unstable conditions, with direct and indirect impacts. Erastus said the aviation industry is set to lose US$220 billion for the duration of the global lockdowns and travel bans, according to the International Air Transport Association, and the grounding of aircraft leads to zero income. “The impact on Air Namibia is quite heavy as a result of indirect effects. We are hoping through the communication by the president to relieve restrictions, we could at least focus on domestic operations. It is not going to be easy to restart the aviation industry. This is a process that will take close to 36 months. We are looking at expanding flight frequency domestically and regionally after the lockdown,” he said. “We do not have any guarantee of when consumer confidence will return,” he said. BUSINESS LOSSES Meanwhile, TransNamib chief executive officer Johny Smith at the information session said the transporter has scaled down operations by 60% since the lockdown was imposed. He could, however, not provide the exact figure of revenue losses, but said TransNamib has approached its shareholder, the government, for support to mitigate the impact of the lockdown and prevent job losses. He said the transporter used to be able to move a lot of freight at the same time, but is currently running fewer trains at a time. “We have divided staff into three categories: administration, operations and technical. We are still finding ways of tapping into the potential that could be created post-Covid-19 so we can survive. We still continue to sustain our cargo levels as we do not need much human capital for our operations, which are mostly driven by machines.” Acting chief executive officer of the Namibia Ports Authority (Namport), Kevin Harry said they have done an assessment on the overriding needs so as not to compromise on health protocols. Based on this, certain aspects of the business are operating, he said. Operational shifts have been reduced by 50%, he said. “We have what we call operational beds, where we dock our ships . . . and only allow three to operate at a time. In terms of the water side, we have been fortunate to still receive business. The shipping lines are coming, but that is hampered by the rate at which we are able to service the vessels,” he said. Representing the Ministry of Works and Transport, Jonas Sheelongo, deputy executive director of transport said Namibia has not been spared the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the transport sector needs to understand the measures Namibia and the Southern African Development Community could take. Speaking at the information session yesterday, Sheelongo said the region has adopted SADC guidelines, aimed to ensure the efficient movement of goods.
By: Charmaine Ngatjiheue