Air Namibia averts A330 diversion headache

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Air Namibia has secured approval to continue operating Airbus A330 services from its Windhoek hub despite a regulatory downgrade of emergency capabilities which threatened serious disruption.

The carrier has a pair of A330-200s with which it serves the Frankfurt route.

But a NOTAM for Windhoek date 22 July states that the fire-fighting and rescue classification of the airport has been downgraded to Category 5 until 30 November.

Under ICAO’s airport classification system this allows an airport to handle aircraft only up to 28m long.

An A330 requires a fire-fighting capability at least equal to Category 8.

Air Nambia had been facing the prospect of diverting its Frankfurt services to Gaborone, in neighbouring Botswana, and using multiple A319s to shuttle passengers to Windhoek.

But the carrier says it has avoided the complications by securing an exemption from the Namibian transport ministry.

“The exemption was granted following Air Namibia’s application and taking into account the supporting safety case presented,” says the carrier.

Air Namibia says it has to meet “a number of specified conditions” to ensure that the safety of its A330 arrivals and departures are “not compromised” while the airport fire-fighting downgrade remains in effect. It has not detailed these conditions.

But it says that there will be no further diversions of its Frankfurt services to Gaborone.