Rebranded airline aims to fly the flag for Namibia

Namibian regional operator, FlyWestair, is seeking to take on national carrier’s mantle.


Brand new: Westair Aviation launched its new FlyNamibia brand at a glitzy event in Windhoek, the country’s capital. Picture: Westair Aviation

Namibia – a huge country with a small population – has a new claimant to the role of national airline, following the demise last year of Air Namibia.

Regional operator, FlyWestair, has rebranded as FlyNamibia as it aims to restore at least the short-haul flights of the former national carrier.

FlyWestair was established in 2019 as the south-west African nation’s first privately owned airline. Parent company, Westair Aviation, started as an aircraft maintenance company in 1967.

FlyWestair operates four ERJ145 regional jets, although some are understood to be parked at present. It also has around 30 general-aviation aircraft in its fleet for services to locations such as game lodges.

The Embraers’ routes link the capital, Windhoek, and three domestic destinations plus a single international destination, Cape Town, in neighbouring South Africa. FlyNamibia has said that it intends to expand its route map.

The liquidation of Air Namibia, which collapsed with heavy debts in February 2021, came as a shock to the nation, according to the business editor of Namibia’s New Era newspaper, Edgar Brandt.

“The loss of state-owned Air Namibia was quite a devastating blow to the psyche of most Namibians. We don’t really have much [in the country] and the national airline was a tremendous source of pride, not just for the people who worked for it and the support industries, but to the man in the street.”

However, Brandt added, the airline had been consistently loss-making: “Out of its 20 years’ existence, you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times it had recorded a profit.”

There was no chance that the state – which last September had to pay US lessor, Castlelake, $109.5 million in a lease termination agreement for the airline’s two Airbus A330-200s – would consider setting up a replacement, he said.

At present, the only other foreign carriers serving Namibia are South Africa’s Airlink and Ethiopian. This means longer international journeys for Namibian travellers usually involve a connecting flight in Cape Town, Johannesburg or Addis Ababa.

Alan Dron

Alan Dron

Alan Dron is air transport editor at Arabian Aerospace for which he has written since its launch.