On Tuesday, Air Namibia was still promoting a Strand Hotel Valentine Weekend Special, following other active publicity regarding restarting operations to various destinations, yet just 2 days later, the company’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts showed an abrupt message: the urgent notice that “effective 11FEB21 all flight operations will be cancelled, with all aircraft returning to base. The reservation system for taking new bookings is also suspended.”
Namibia’s 75-year-old national carrier ceased operations overnight and gone into liquidation. Interestingly, no such information is provided on its website, which is likely to be the place that most passengers would be checking first, and though the calendar shows “no flights”, a customer can still go through a booking process until that point. Whether or not passengers with existing bookings have been proactively contacted, is not known, and no mention is made of any cargo-related procedures, nor is any information regarding the end of operations stated on its cargo pages.
Apparently the company’s 636 employees were informed by trade union representatives on 10FEB21, that they would be given an ex-gratia pay-out to the equivalent of 12 months’ salary but would
receive no other benefits. The Board had already resigned on 03FEB21, following the government’s decision to no longer bail out the ailing airline which, in addition to other creditors, was due
to pay Belgian creditor, Challangair, the first installment of a total of USD 11.9 million it owed as part of an out-of-court settlement agreed on 28JAN21 following an ongoing legacy debt of a
B767 lease, due on 18FEB21.
Namibia’s finance minister Ipumbu Shiimi had described the airline’s ongoing debts as “unsustainable,” pointing out that USD554 million had already been paid to the airline over the past ten years, and a forecasted USD461.6 million to turn the permanently unprofitable, inefficiently run airline around was too great a burden for the country’s taxpayers.
The Namibian government is in contact with the lessors of the airline’s largely leased fleet of four A319-100s (two owned, two leased from Deucalion Aviation Funds), two A330-200s (leased from Castlelake), four EMB-135ERs (financially leased from HOP!, unencumbered since OCT20), and one inactive B737-500 (owned), and a three-person board of directors has been charged with handling the liquidation.
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