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"We know the low-cost carriers will come. It's just a matter of when," Rene Gsponer, Air Namibia's acting managing director, said in a stone-faced interview at the IATA AGM in Miami. "But we are ready for them – much more than we were two years ago."
A Swiss national, Gsponer landed the job of chief operating officer and accountable manager at Air Namibia in October 2013, following a lengthy stint as one of IATA's senior consultants.
His appointment came in the midst of a painful restructuring period at the Namibian carrier, whose government owner was rapidly losing patience with the parastatal for its heavy financial losses. After commissioning IATA to develop an urgent turnaround strategy, the airline's board was so impressed by Gsponer that it put him in charge of executing what had now become a do-or-die plan.
It took just one year for the consultant-turned-manager's vision to bear fruit, with Air Namibia announcing four consecutive months of profit in November 2014 for the first time in its history...