WINDHOEK – Air Namibia is fighting tooth and nail to have an attachment order by a German court thrown out as it argues that the judgement by a Munich court in January 2015 remains enforceable only in Germany. The case stems from a 1998 sublease agreement with the now defunct Belgian company, Challenge Air SA. Air Namibia is adamant that thus far the legal proceedings were restricted to Germany as an attachment order awarded has no legal efficacy in Namibia and the airline approached the Namibian High Court for remedy.
The national airline’s stance is that following a maintenance and crew support agreement concluded in March 1998 it discovered that the aircraft leased was in many respects defective and that Challenge Air, the lessor and current claimant against Air Namibia, was unable to rectify the defects. Shortly afterwards Challenge Air SA was liquidated.
Although Air Namibia has throughout the case maintained its legal position on the matter and has unsuccessfully presented its position in the transactions to what it calls “mostly hostile European tribunals” with the best available local and international counsel, the airline received a written communication on October 11, 2018 from local legal firm, Sisa Namandje Incorporated, informing of the fact that they were acting on the instructions of Wilhelm Shali and Anicet Baum who are the court-appointed liquidators of Challenge Air.
The October 11, 2018 letter was delivered to the office of the Minister of Works and Transport and legal counsel. However, Air Namibia feels that the recent steps taken by Challenge Air in Europe, despite the outcome of the proceedings in the Namibian High Court still being awaited, have caused financial prejudice to the airline and are clearly aimed at exerting pressure.
“Currently Air Namibia is seized with legal proceedings in the Namibian High Court by the claimant seeking to have recognition of it awarded in Namibia and which is opposed amongst others on the basis of the pre-existing Namibian High Court order declaring the award unenforceable,” read a statement issued yesterday by Air Namibia’s Manager for Corporate Communications Paul Nakawa.
While the outcome of the proceedings in the High Court is pending, following the reservation of the judgement, Challenge Air initiated attachment proceedings in Germany based on the German enforcement order it has secured. The Namibian Sun yesterday reported that Challenge Air has thus far managed to extract N$10 million from Air Namibia’s European bank accounts.
In 2015 Air Namibia was informed that Challenge Air applied for an attachment order in respect of funds held in Europe. These actions were aimed at recovering the legal costs to which Challenge Air is entitled by virtue of the proceedings which took place in Germany in which it sought to make the arbitration award an order of court. The order was granted with cost by the Munich regional court in January 2015.
“The airline hereby takes the opportunity to assure all its stakeholders that all necessary steps are being taken, including but not limited to engaging the claimant directly to find a permanent solution to the matter. To this end EASA shall equally be engaged with a view to explaining the current efforts of the airline in engaging the claimant in this respect,” read Nakawa’s statement.