Windhoek High Court Judge Shafimana Uitele on Friday ordered that the budget airline, Fly Africa, immediately stop transporting passengers between Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport and OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. The interdict came shortly after the country’s national airline, Air Namibia, filed an urgent application to stop the much cheaper rival from introducing scheduled flights to OR Tambo airport. The basis for the urgent application was that Nomad Aviation – the local operator for Fly Africa – does not have a license to convey passengers to OR Tambo International Airport. The budget airline is, however, allowed to transport passengers to Lanseria Airport outside Johannesburg and to other destinations, including Cape Town, and is also authorised to transport cargo to OR Tambo airport. Air Namibia applied for the interdict after the Transportation Commission of Namibia ruled that Fly Africa only has clearance to use the route to Lanseria, after the two competing airlines requested clarity from the commission. At the time Nomad Aviation, as the local operator, indicated that the company would abide by the commission’s decision, but has since come out disputing the ruling. On Friday Advocate Theo Frank SC, who appeared for Air Namibia on instruction from Ellis and Partners Law Firm, assisted by Advocate Ramon Maasdorp, accused the discount airline of “playing games”. He said upon various enquiries the discount airline would not specify whether they would land at OR Tambo or at Lanseria, thus causing confusion. It was this apparent “confusion” that prompted Air Namibia to approach the High Court on an urgent basis for a ruling on the matter. Nomad Aviation was cited as the first respondent in the matter and was represented by lawyer Phillip Swanepoel. The chairperson of the Transportation Commission of Namibia and the commission itself were cited as second and third respondents respectively, but did not oppose the application. The interdict Judge Uitele placed on Nomad Aviation is, however, only applicable to flights to and from OR Tambo International Airport, and is still subject to the outcome of the main court challenge. Judge Uitele was adamant that Air Namibia had a “prima facie right” to expect from Nomad Aviation to abide by the ruling of the commission on whether or not it is authorised to fly passengers to OR Tambo Airport. He shot down Swanepoel’s protestations on a number of issues the lawyer wanted to raise, including an argument that the discount airline has the right the fly the route until its licences are reviewed and set aside by a competent court of law. The judge made mince-meat out of the lawyer’s attempts to raise various issues by time and again reminding him that the only point for consideration is whether or not the aggrieved party – Air Namibia – had the right to hold Nomad Aviation to its earlier undertaking to abide by the ruling of the Transportation Commission. Swanepoel conceded on this point and Judge Uitele thus took little time to make an order that the discount airline may not convey passengers to OR Tambo Airport, pending the outcome of the case before the High Court. Air Namibia has further lodged an application seeking a High Court declaration that Nomad Aviation is not in possession of a valid Air Services License, or licenses to conduct scheduled air services for the conveyance of passengers between Namibia and South Africa, and vice versa, which is scheduled to be heard in due course.
New Era Reporter
2015-09-07 15:52:30 3 years ago