BY TREVOR WILLIAMS
The southern African nation of Namibia may not be on the map for many in Atlanta, but it grabbed the attention last week of top officials at the world’s busiest airport.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport General Manager Balram “B” Bheodari led a delegation to the country to “advance air service development efforts,” the airport told Global Atlanta in a statement. That’s airport-speak for wooing new passenger or cargo flights.
The group, comprised of leaders from ATL’s infrastructure and commercial team, was hosted by the Namibia Airports Company and met with an array of officials including FlyNamibia, a mostly local airline with limited international service to South Africa, and Westair Aviation, a charter outfit with a fleet of 30 planes.
The trip comes as incentives focused on attracting new foreign carriers, especially those from Asia and Africa, remain in effect as Hartsfield-Jackson continues its outreach to these world regions after winning Ethiopian Airlines for four-times-weekly service earlier this year.
“Global economic impact starts with a relationship,” said Mr. Bheodari. “This visit and our ongoing collaboration with the community members we met will ensure ATL and the region continues to expand its presence in growing markets.”
Along with aviation officials, the group met with the deputy mayor and CEO of the city of Windhoek, the capital, along with executives from the Namibia Port Authority and the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board. Officials from the U.S. Embassy also met the group.
On LinkedIn, Mr. Bheodari credited “global connector” April Ripley, an Atlanta-based consultant focused on international protocol and etiquette, with organizing the exchange.
Also rated as the most efficient airport in the world, ATL maintains a strong focus on training and sharing of best practices with aviation counterparts internationally, having established a sister airports program to institutionalize such collaborations. In Africa, it has such tie-ups in Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria.
Traveling with Mr. Bheodari were Alrene Barr, director of international business at Hartsfield-Jackson, and J’Aimeka “Jai” Ferrell, chief commercial officer and deputy general manager.
Namibia, a sparsely populated country of 2.5 million with sweeping sand dunes and a strong safari scene, is seeking to drive more tourism traffic as travel picks up after the pandemic.
The country has an honorary consulate in Albany, Ga., covering the state.