Air Nam flight delays due to grounded pilots

16 August 2019 | Infrastructure

Complaints are flooding in from frustrated Air Namibia customers who say they had to spend hours at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) because of delayed flights.

Flights to Cape Town, Johannesburg and Frankfurt were delayed for one to two hours on Monday, and irate travellers say delays and cancellations seem to have become a regular occurrence. Air Namibia spokesperson Paul Nakawa says the delays of these three flights were a ripple effect caused by the cancellation of the flight from Victoria Falls to Windhoek the day before, on Sunday, 11 August. He said the Victoria Falls-Windhoek flight had to be cancelled because Eros Airport, which was as the designated alternate airport, would have been closed by the time the flight arrived in Windhoek.

“Aviation law requires that there must be an alternate airport for every flight in case you cannot land at the destined airport. Due to the fact that the [Eros] airport was closed at the estimated time of arrival, passengers on the affected flight had to sleep over at Victoria Falls and the flight had to be cancelled,” Nakawa said yesterday.



Pilots' licences

In addition, Nakawa said other flights were cancelled or delayed because some of the airline's pilots on the A319-100 and ERJ 135 fleet are currently grounded because they have yet to undergo “internal operational proficiency checks”.

“These pilots' licences as issued by the regulator [Namibia Civil Aviation Authority] are valid, but the internal checks are required to ensure they are still proficient and able to handle the aircraft,” Nakawa said.

He said the simulators in Johannesburg that Air Namibia normally uses were undergoing maintenance and were therefore unavailable.

“The other option we could have considered was to send these pilots to Europe, an option which is quite expensive and at this time when we have financial pressure, it was difficult to use,” Nakawa said.



CATHERINE SASMAN

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