Following a public backlash over its objection to the establishment of Fly Etosha, FlyNamibia has formally withdrawn its objection against the startup's license application lodged with the Transport Commission of Namibia.

"We have taken into consideration the public sentiment towards our objection, and being cognizant of the fact that the Namibian public is a key stakeholder in our company, the FlyNamibia board has made the decision to reconsider its approach and to withdraw its objection to the Fly Etosha application, allowing the application to be duly and objectively evaluated by the Transportation Commission on its own merit," Managing Director André Compion said in a statement.

Compion said the airline's objection was a standard operating procedure. "It is practice and process in the aviation industry, as with most regulated industries in Namibia, for a proposed undertaking, such as the launch of a new airline, to be gazetted, thus allowing for public comment and/or objection." He added: "The Namibian law allows stakeholders to make objections to applications as part of the governance process to ensure that the general public will receive a safe and reliable air service that complies with the requirements stated in the Act."

Still, "having deemed our objection' business as usual' within the aviation industry, we were surprised by the vehement negative response from the public and have reflected on our approach," he said. "Our intentions were never to pass judgement on the applicant nor to pre-empt any outcome, but purely to provide comment on the limitations of the application as it was gazetted in the Government Gazette Nr 8013 of January 24, 2023."

Compion said Fly Namibia and its shareholders welcomed competition. "We currently compete directly with a number of foreign airlines, including Airlink (South Africa) and South African Airways, and we foresee and welcome more competition on the horizon with the imminent arrival of other regional airlines, such as FlySafair to Namibia," he said.

FlyNamibia submitted its objection to Fly Etosha to the regulator on February 14 citing the start-up's alleged "lack of financial resources, aircraft, maintenance facilities, ground handling services, insurance cover, and personnel". Fly Etosha has applied for an air service license with plans to debut on domestic and regional routes around June 2023 but has yet to declare its funding, investors, and choice of aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Namibian government is talking to Ethiopian Airlines to revive defunct state-owned Air Namibia (Windhoek International) amid political pressure from the ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) for a state-owned flag carrier.