Air Namibia on growth path
This is the opinion of Ellison Hijarunguru, the airline’s manager: corporate communications, who told reporters during a media visit to the Airbus production plants in France and Germany recently. Hijarunguru joined a group of Namibian journalists who visited Airbus plants in Toulouse and Hamburg last week. He described the journey, which was jointly organised by Air Namibia and Airbus, as a “media relation building effort”. “One of my primary tasks as the person responsible for media affairs at Air Namibia is to change the public image from a negative to a positive one,” said Hijarunguru. Part of his job is thus to convince the media and subsequently the public that leasing Airbus long-haul planes and getting rid of the existing aircraft had been the right decision taken by Air Namibia. “Five years ago, the media were very pessimistic concerning Air Namibia and its future. However, with added education and the openness we have applied, the Press has become fairer towards us,” Hijarunguru reflected back on what he called “my open-door policy”. The media trip had fully lived up to his expectations, “because firstly, Airbus is a highly organised and professional organisation which knows perfectly how to organise events like these”. The fact that the media sent experienced journalists on the educational journey meant that there was a good chance of the public being informed in a balanced and fair manner. “Government has been very concerned with Air Namibia in recent years, especially during the days when we owned the Boeing 747/400 Combi,” Hijarunguru reflected on the days when the airline was in the news almost on a daily basis for all the wrong reasons. “We were then advised by independent experts to rid ourselves of the Combi.” Air Namibia listened to this piece of advice. It subsequently leased two McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 long-haul aircraft, which only served as an interim solution. The first Airbus A340/300 started flying the Windhoek-London route in December 2005, while a second aircraft of the same type is expected to start serving the connection between Windhoek and Frankfurt as from September this year.