Tourism on brink of disaster

Representatives of the tourism industry have asked for urgent government intervention to safeguard Hosea Kutako's status as international airport.

10 October 2018 | Transport

The tourism industry has called for urgent action from the highest levels of government to avoid a potential catastrophe should Hosea Kutako International Airport fail an international safety audit.

A high-level crisis meeting is scheduled for today between the tourism industry and representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) performing the safety audit at the airport.

The meeting is aimed at finding out exactly what safety and security challenges are still being experienced and if they can be remedied.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations (Fenata) has written to tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta asking for his assistance to make President Hage Geingob and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila aware of the imminent threat.

Speaking to Namibian Sun yesterday, Shifeta confirmed that he had forwarded the letter to Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Fenata chairman Bernd Schneider wrote in the letter that he had been informed of a meeting that took place last week Thursday between the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority and representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

According to him the aim of the meeting was to find clarity about the situation at Hosea Kutako, especially with regard to the upcoming safety audit of the airport.

“The single biggest and most important aspect about international aviation is safety,” says Schneider.

He said for this reason ICAO, which is a United Nations agency, ensures that generally accepted safety standards are adhered to in all UN member countries.

He said at the meeting the ICAO officials made it clear that due to a complete lack of action on the part of Namibia Airports Company (NAC) with regard to safety standards at Hosea Kutako, it was nearly certain that the airport would not pass the ICAO safety audit scheduled for November this year.

He said failure to pass the ICAO safety audit would have immediate and far-reaching consequences. The airport would likely lose its international operating licence, which means that international arrivals and departures would no longer be possible.





“I cannot stress the urgency of this matter enough. There is no quick fix for this. It is a situation where we as Namibia simply need to comply and conform with internationally accepted rules and standards. Losing air access to international destinations would not only bring the Namibian tourism industry to an immediate and complete standstill, but it would have tremendous and far-reaching economic and social impacts.”

Schneider said in the current economic climate Namibia cannot afford such a major blow to the economy.

“From the private sector side we are currently trying to arrange a high-level follow-up meeting in the next couple of days with ICAO officials to investigate and find ways if and how this disaster could be prevented from happening. We are also busy getting all stakeholders involved to get answers about the situation and the risks faced due to this.”

He stressed that this is a national concern and needs the utmost attention.

Spokesperson of the NAC Dan Kamati told Namibian Sun that they were not aware of the meeting held last week with ICAO representatives and the statements made there.

“What NAC knows is that ICAO is coming for a security audit of the state of Namibia and not a safety audit,” Kamati said.

Kamati added that ICAO does not issue any certificates to airports, because this is the responsibility of Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as the designated appropriate authority.

He said that NAC, which is responsible for coordinating the implementation of security measures by all relevant stakeholders at the airport, would be part of the audit process.

“We are working hand in hand with NCAA and all other concerned entities to identify areas of improvement as well as, where appropriate, the corrective actions to be implemented at the airport level.”

He said security challenges are becoming more and more important due to continuous evolving requirements as well as emerging new threats.

“NAC, under the supervision of NCAA, continues to work hand in hand with all relevant stakeholders to identify areas of improvement and we are confident that we will have many improvements to show to the ICAO team.”



ELLANIE SMIT

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