Namibia’s open-sky approach
The Namibian government has rooted for and adopted for an open sky policy and says liberalisation of the tier would attract more tourists, despite the financial headache the country is facing.
This policy will destroy Air Namibia, although in general we welcome the free sky policy in global terms.
The policy is influenced by the view that opening skies to new and multiple private operators would enhance competition, reduce prices and improve the quality of customer services.
Namibia only has one carrier; how can we be competitive with the world? Air Namibia is hardly global in operation and does not have a global network. This is unfair competition.
As a parastatal, Air Namibia has not shown growth over the years. They recently expressed concern over the government approval given to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Ethiopian Airways and Qatar Airways, which are expected to start flying into the country this month.
The company said such established airlines have budgets twice that of its own. They are completely aware that the airline would suffer due to the entry of foreign countries that can offer much better services and much lower fares.
Competitive markets often result in failure. Wrong decisions leading to excess capacities, price wars that reduce margins and just plain bad management can lead to losses and the bankruptcy of one or more players in the market. Are we ready to lose our national airline for the benefit of more tourists visiting the country?
There has been a lot of patient endurance of the lack of accountability and the proliferation of corruption at Air Namibia. The political importance and power of relatively privileged Namibians tend to serve as a barrier to the attention that the voices of ordinary Namibians can actually get.
The operation of the public sector is a matter of general interest. Therefore, accountability at Air Namibia is a concern of the populace. There is an absence of systems of accountability in the public sector, especially parastatals.
However, democracy demands not only that grievances about terrible practices be widely aired, but also that this leads to serious reasoning about what can be sensibly done to remove the problem. Air Namibia has a problem. We have to seek real remedies that work.