Africa: A new era in Namibian aviation as FlyWestair prepares to take to the skies
Ticket sales open today (for the first FlyWestair passenger flights to Oranjemund with the flight for the newest entrant into Namibia’s passenger air travel scheduled for Monday, June 24, 2019. This impressive milestone signifies a new era in Namibian aviation for Westair Aviation after the company was granted Designated Carrier status by the Namibian Transport Commission.
This accreditation makes Westair Aviation an official scheduled passenger airline offering flights to various destinations within the country and the sub-region, under the brand name FlyWestair. According to a media statement issued by Westair, the first route to roll out will be three scheduled flights per week from Eros Airport in Windhoek to Oranjemund.
Wolfgang Grellmann, Chairman of Westair group announced the new development stating that: “The launch of FlyWestair is a natural evolution for Westair Aviation as a well-established, fully-integrated aviation services provider. We are on a continuous quest to improve the standard of aviation in Namibia. There is a definite need for a regular scheduled flight to Oranjemund. The government of Namibia, whether through De Beers Marine Namibia or through Namdeb, are investing a lot of resources to create a future for Oranjemund town beyond mining and easy, frequent access to the town is pivotal.”
As for additional routes, Westair says it is eligible to fly to various destinations in Namibia and the region and new destinations to be introduced include Cape Town (serviced form Oranjemund and Windhoek), Walvis Bay, Ondangwa and Johannesburg. Local flights on these routes are planned to start from July 2019, with regional flights introduced from August 2019, subject to on service agreements being reached with authorities and service providers.
Westair Aviation is a private airline which started out as an aircraft maintenance facility 52 years ago in 1967, but has since grown to become one of the most advanced aviation companies in the country with a fleet of more than 30 aircraft and 70 pilots, able to conduct any aviation related mission across Africa.
As a 100 percent Namibian-owned entity, Westair Aviation is owned by Westair Holdings (Pty) Ltd that is fully owned and controlled by the management team of Westair, of which the founder and executive chairman is Wolfgang Grellmann and managing director of the group is Gustav Holz. Chief executive officer is Henri van Schalkwyk while operations director and accountable manager is Captain Christo Roets.
Although scheduled flights to mining destinations were conducted by Westair Aviation for clients in the mining industry before, the decision to launch an official scheduled passenger airline for the public was fuelled by opportunities in the market of which the Windhoek-Oranjemund presented the most immediate significance.
“Strategically, Ondangwa is the most frequented destination in the country and the Namibian government invested heavily in a runway and airport infrastructure through the Namibia Airports Company. As a proudly Namibian airline, we are committed to service the majority of our population. When operational, it will also be possible to travel from Oranjemund to Ondangwa in one day,” said Grellmann.
Currently, Westair Aviation holds one of the highest safety accreditations in the industry, namely BARS “Gold” status, which means that the company has held this accreditation for longer than three consecutive years.
This is in terms of the implication thereof for the national airline, Grellmann said: “We’ve always worked very closely with Air Namibia and we have leased aircraft on an Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (ACMI) basis to Air Namibia on a semi-permanent basis for the last eighteen months. This lease agreement came to an end on May 31, 2019.
At the moment, no one services the Eros – Oranjemund route, so there is currently no option available for subcontractors to the mines, people visiting family, consultants and others who wants to visit Oranjemund or Rosh Pinah in the morning and fly out again the same day.
FlyWestair’s entrance to the market will serve the local economy and support Air Namibia in developing the sector to make Namibia more competitive in a competitive industry dominated by foreign operators.”