“At the current climate we could not manage to find ways of sustaining it financially and we will have to return to the drawing board to reconsider other options,” Air Namibia senior manager in marketing and sales, Wimpie van Vuuren told CNBC Africa.
“The possibility of this route was properly researched before we launched it , unfortunately due to the downturn and economic developments in Europe a lot of carriers have not produced the numbers we had expected the same with connections to the USA. Within Africa we face increased competition with increasing capacity to Johannesburg” he added.
Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport with state of the art technology and facilities is an attraction to passengers connecting to European and Middle East destinations. Some reports estimate that by next year the airport is expected to reach a capacity of about 24 million passengers per annum.
OR Tambo runways are considered to be among the longest in the world at 3300 and 4400 metres respectively.
Growing business opportunites in Africa have prompted European airlines to increase flights to the continent and this has been straining African airlines especially due to over exposure to soft currencies.
“The big challenge is that within Africa we are exposed to soft currencies in most cases while maintaining our aircrafts and paying fuel in hard currency. The benefit to European airlines is that their travellers pay in hard currencies which [gives them an edge] ,” said van Vuuren.
He noted that challenges facing African carriers are not unique to Africa, they are worldwide in nature as airline fight for a bigger market share and others through price reduction.
(READ STORY: Lack of liberalisation hurting Africa airline industry)
Most African airlines have been failing to sustain operations due to competition and maintenance challenges. The past few years saw Air Malawi and Air Zimbabwe suspending operations and only resumed after partnership with other airlines.
BY TRUST MATSILELE