Air Namibia has announced the suspension of its flight on Windhoek - Lagos - Accra routes effective from May 24 over alleged diplomatic rows between Nigeria and Namibia.
Mr Wimpie van Vuuren, Acting General Manager, Commercial Services, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja said that the ban on the non issuance of Nigerian visas to Namibians by Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia in February led to the decision to suspend the airline's operation to Nigeria.
Vuuren said that the ban 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.
He said that the Air Namibia consulted various stakeholders to mitigate the diplomatic standoff, but all efforts proved futile.
According to him, the load factor performance of the route dropped from average 55 per cent attained during June 2018 to January 2019, to between 35 and 38 per cent during February to April 2019.
"Air Namibia hereby wishes to inform you all (employees) that we are suspending the Windhoek - Lagos - Accra route effective today, Friday 24 May 2019.
"Air Namibia launched the route Windhoek - Lagos - Accra at the end of June 2018.
"The route started off very well in terms of passenger numbers and revenue generation, and within two months the route was making a positive contribution to the airline's route network.
"During February 2019, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia banned the issuing of visa's to Namibian passport holders.
"In addition, there are 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," he said.
Mr Paul Nakawa, Manager Corporate Communications said that Air Namibia decided to suspend the route for an indefinite period in order to mitigate the related safety, noncompliance and commercial risks.
Nakawa said that the affected passengers would be assisted by accommodating them on flights operated by its partner airlines at Air Namibia's cost, or they would be refunded if they opt not to fly anymore.
He said that the mandate of the airline was to be a major contributor towards the attraction and promotion of tourism to Namibia by providing air transport between the country and rest of the world, as well as operating flights within the boundaries of Namibia.
When contacted, an Official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the Ministry was aware of the situation and already looking into it. (NAN)