WESTAIR aviation inaugurated its commercial passenger flight from Windhoek to Oranjemund on Wednesday, a move which is expected to benefit both the town and the company significantly, while growing the local economy.
The inauguration took place at the Oranjemund airport, where mayor Henry Coetzee expressed gratitude to the airline.
He said the flight route would essentially bring economic transformation for the people and the industries which operate in and around the mining town.
The initiative falls in line with the key principles and vision to reconnect and reintegrate Oranjemund into the rest of Namibia through the Oranjemund 2030 agenda.
“For us, it is an opportunity that will help the town to promote itself as a business hub and tourist destination as we have so much to offer, given the natural resources at our disposal,” Coetzee added.
He encouraged the group to further expand their network to Cape Town and Johannesburg from Oranjemund, seeing that the town attracts South African investors.
“This will mean more international connections as an extension to the rest of the world,” he noted, adding that development ‘needs partners’.
The chairperson of Westair, Wolfgang Grellmann, announced that the company on Tuesday was granted the aviation partnership project certification by the South African ministry of home affairs.
He said this would open up the chance for the company to schedule flights from Oranjemund to Cape Town in future.
Grellmann added that a route to Oranjemund was important because of the town’s rich mining history and as a business hub.
“I am quite convinced that tourism will flourish,” he said, adding that it will also create new job opportunities.
It took years for the aviation company to fully obtain a charter licence, and these were years of investment. It took the company 52 years to get to where it is today. Westair started off as an aircraft maintenance facility at Eros airport, with a licence for operating an aviation school.
Grellmann explained that the journey towards building a reputable airline which would also carry passengers was a costly one, taking into consideration the maintenance, human resources and engineering costs.
“In those years [before independence], the aviation system was monopolistic. Only the national air carriers were allowed to transport passengers; the rest of us had to stand in line and hope for better times,” he said.
Two years ago, the company initiated applications to the transport commission for passenger jet flights.
Grellmann mentioned that the national carrier was not happy, and that the move attracted much conspiracy as they were ‘new’ competition.
Regional councillor Lasarus Nangolo also welcomed Westair’s decision to schedule flights into the town, saying more people come to the town seeking better opportunities of development, not only for Oranjemund, but also for the //Kharas region at large.
He also encouraged the aviation company to expand their services to the regional capital, Keetmanshoop.
“If everyone feels covered, then the business will go well,” he said.
[SOURCE: The Namibian, by Yokany Oliveira]