Airlink targets more routes through FlyNamibia deal

South Africa’s Airlink says it is finalizing a commercial agreement with FlyNamibia to access more routes

The regional airline recently acquired a 40% stake in FlyNamibia in a strategic move aimed at filling the short- and medium-haul regional market gap left by the collapse of Air Namibia.

SA airlink intends to utilize traffic rights, as provided for through Freedoms of the Air as defined by 1944 Chicago Convention, to target other routes, including the Windhoek – St. Helena route.

“Airlink secured these traffic rights from the Namibian and UK aeronautical authorities in 2019, but they are conditional on Airlink entering into a commercial relationship with a Namibian airline, which would be required to market and sell seats on the service between Namibia and St. Helena.  This condition has not yet been fulfilled. We aim to finalise a commercial agreement soon with FlyNamibia.  This will fulfil the condition and allow Airlink to exercise fifth freedom rights on the route,” Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster told The Brief.

Fifth freedom traffic rights enable an airline from one country to carry passengers between two other countries.

The carrier currently does not have dates on when it planned to introduce additional flights under the already secured traffic rights.

“We do not yet have a start date. Airlink does not yet operate its St. Helena flights on a fifth freedom basis.  Airlink flights currently stop in Namibia to take on fuel (a second freedom right).   Fifth freedom rights will entitle Airlink to pick up and set down passengers in Namibia during those en route stops between South Africa and St. Helena,” he said.

“Once we have exercised the fifth freedom traffic rights between Namibia and St Helena we will consider other opportunities as we see much potential for this.   However, typically fifth freedom traffic rights are applicable only in instances where there is no operator of third and fourth freedom traffic rights.  As an example, if there is no airline serving the Windhoek - Harare route and Airlink has the third and fourth traffic rights between Cape Town and Windhoek as well as between Cape Town and Harare, then, under a fifth freedom arrangement, Airlink would be able to continue its Cape Town - Windhoek flight on to Harare. In doing so, it would be able to pick up customers in Windhoek bound for Harare, and of course vice versa for the return journey.”

It is not clear of what impact the planned launch by Air Zimbabwe of Harare- Windhoek flights will have, if the airline is targeting the route based on any flights rights.

The planned launch of more routes by Airlink, will support Namibia’s shared longer-term ambition to establish Hosea Kutako International Airport as the central connecting hub and base, in so doing, help to make air travel and transport more efficient and enhance Namibia’s competitive position as a destination for trade and tourism.

From its Johannesburg hub, Airlink serves Windhoek up to four times a day and Walvis Bay daily. 

In addition, from Cape Town, Airlink operates up to three return flights a day to Windhoek and a daily return service to Walvis Bay.

FlyNamibia currently operates domestic flights from Windhoek’s Eros Airport to Ondangwa, Rundu and Katima Mulilo and regional flights to Cape Town operating six times a week from Hosea Kutako International Airport.

South African low-budget airline FlySafair is also expected to soon start flying into Windhoek after it received relevant regulatory approvals. The airline is targeting the Windhoek-Cape Town route, while approval for the Windhoek-Johannesburg route is still pending.


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Last modified on Friday, 18 November 2022 04:51

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