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Air Namibia suspends flights to Nigeria over ‘diplomatic stand-off’

Air Namibia, the national airline of the Republic of Namibia, has suspended its Windhoek-Lagos-Accra flights with effect from yesterday, barely one year after the launch of the flight. Daily Trust learnt that the suspension followed an unresolved diplomatic stand-off with Nigeria.

The airline in a statement said the route which was launched in June 2018 started off well with an impressive load factor.

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However, the statement indicated that in February 2019, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia banned issuing of visas to Namibian passport holders.

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Our correspondent tried to reach out to the High Commissioner, Ambassador Adegboyega Ariyo, in Windhoek but an official said he was not available, promising he would return the call.

The statement by Air Namibia alleged that there were messages circulating in Nigeria about Namibia being “anti-Nigeria”, with travelers being urged to avoid visiting Namibia, as well as avoid using Windhoek as a transit point when travelling to South Africa.

The Acting GM Commercial Services of the airline, Mr. Wimpie van Vuuren, was quoted in the statement as saying that the ban on issuing of visas to Namibians could be linked to allegations that Nigerians were normally ill-treated by Namibian border control officials at Hosea Kutako International Airport when arriving or transiting through Windhoek.

According to him, Air Namibia consulted various stakeholders to mitigate the diplomatic stand-off, “but all efforts proved futile”.  Manager Corporate Communications, Mr Paul Nakawa, said Air Namibia decided to suspend the flight indefinitely “in order to mitigate the related safety, non-compliance and commercial risks.

 

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