When the national airline, Air Namibia, wrapped up towards the end of 2020, there was a united public outcry. Not only did more than 600 people lose their jobs, but the world was and still is battling an economy crippling pandemic, which means that the chances of finding work are next to nil.
When you have been in aviation and was used to flying every other day for three decades, it’s more than just losing a source of income. It also meant being confined to the same places. As it stands, it is quite tricky to determine when things could go back to normal the world over, and so this may be it for most people. This may be retirement for those who have not made any further plans.
For Foibe Lukas, a former employee of Air Namibia, this is just another new beginning. This is the rising from the ashes, so to say. Having worked as a flight attendant both for Air Namibia and for the Head of State for the past 30 years, the knowledge and experience gained from travelling the world over are invaluable. She plans to use the opportunity to pursue a long-held dream of running a business.
“Getting into aviation was a doorway to wider business opportunities. Early on in my career as a flight attendant, I learnt to observe how others did business in other countries and I would always bring something home from every place I went just to sell. I have always been business-minded, and this comes from having had a grandmother who was business savvy. My grandmother used to buy a bag of potatoes, cut each potato into four pieces, and sell each piece for fifty cents. So I always looked forward to the holidays when I could visit her.”
While flying, Foibe opened her business called Wedding & Beauty World, selling wedding gowns, bridal wear and cosmetics to clients who increased by the day just by word of mouth. Her products were a regular at the famed annual Ongwediva Trade Fair. Working with clients was not something she only learnt while in aviation, Foibe’s impressive work history goes back to her primary school years.
“In primary school, I used to sneak out of the house, to go and do domestic work in Naraville, Walvis Bay, just so I could earn money to go to the bioskop, which was a big deal to me then, obviously. In Secondary school, I had my first customer care experience as a waitress at a local restaurant in Walvis Bay CBD. After that, I worked holiday jobs at Pep Stores in Walvis Bay, where I learnt to interact with and sell to clients.”
After secondary school in 1988, Foibe went back to work for Pep Stores on a permanent basis for a little while until she decided to look for other work, and she had the idea of moving to the city by train. It was in Windhoek where her next breakthrough came, after knocking on countless doors, getting ‘Geen Werk Nie!’ notices, when by divine coincidence, she ran into her next job in the form of a driver of Gamsberg Publishers who at the time was also looking for an Oshiwambo translator for school books.
During her time at Gamsberg Publishers, which later became Macmillan, Foibe translated books from English, Afrikaans to Oshikwanyama and vice versa. This opportunity also saw her doing television and radio adverts, secured her a spot on the Board of Translators for a good two years. While working as a translator, Foibe also freelanced for UNTAG, translating voters’ education materials. This got her noticed and scouted by Pierre de Villiers, a South African advertising company based in Namibia, which facilitated all adverts for the Independence of Namibia in 1990.
Early 1990, Air Zimbabwe ran an advert in a newspaper looking for flight attendants, that’s when she became interested. Unfortunately, she never got the job, but when Namib Air
(Which became Air Namibia) later ran a similar advert she made it into the third intake and she’s never looked back. From being promoted to Cabin Controller, and again to Senior Cabin Controller, to serving all three Heads of State, Foibe has had many accomplishments.
“I have seen at least 80% of the world, including many islands; I have been to most of Africa. I have always made it a point to always focus on how others traded because Namibia is blessed in terms of natural resources, vast landscapes and so on. One just needs exposure and an innovative mindset to be able to create value. Now that Air Namibia has wrapped up, I look forward to using this time to venture into rebranding my business to Take Flight30; honoring the number of years I’ve been in service. As a brand, Take Flight30 is an umbrella for all my business ventures.
Among the business ventures under Take Flight30 will be her Wedding & Beauty World, this time including wardrobe planning of the Diplomatic Style for the corporate world. And her charitable project, as she also engages in charity work, both as an individual and as part of several groups.
Aviation was not just a passion, but it served as a window. Pulling a stunt of having flown as far as 7 hours to the end of the world, Foibe feels the world remains her oyster. “Through aviation, the world became my oyster, and I will continue to use this exposure to my advantage.” Look out for exclusive businesses and project launch soon.