WINDHOEK – The fortunes of beleaguered national airline, Air Namibia, seem to be worsening as on Thursday last week it lost both its board chairperson and vice-chairperson who resigned suddenly before the end of their term, citing personal reasons and increased professional responsibilities.
The resignations come unexpectedly as both the chairperson and vice chairperson were appointed on January 1, 2019 and were entrusted to lead the airline for the next three years, until December 2021.
Taxpayers have over the years financed billions of dollars in bailouts as the national airline has consistently struggled to make a profit. This has prompted the Ministry of Public Enterprises and the Ministry of Finance to pursue viable options to transform the entity from a loss-making operation while it is still embroiled in a legal battle over a N$400 million claim by now defunct European airline, Challenge Air. It is estimated that during the last seven years Air Namibia received over N$4 billion in bailouts from the government.
In addition to reports about the possible restructuring or even closure of Air Namibia, The Namibian reported last week that three major airlines, namely South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and German-based Lufthansa, have all shown interest in acquiring part of the cash-strapped airline.
Meanwhile, the sudden resignation of the chairperson and vice-chairperson from its board of directors took effect from the close of business on Thursday, September 5.
“Due to a combination, inter alia, of personal reasons and significantly increased responsibilities in their respective professional roles, Advocate Dee Sauls-Deckenbrock and Ms Nangula Kauluma have indicated that they are no longer in a position to avail the time commitment required for the discharge of their fiduciary duties to the company,” read a statement from Air Namibia.
Said Kauluma: “During our tenure, we have made some solid progress (albeit not always publicly shared due to confidentiality and appropriateness of doing so), which has been recorded in our numerous meeting minutes, as well as ongoing communication with the shareholder (GRN).”
Adv Sauls-Deckenbrock stated: “With our departure from the company, we are honoured to have had the opportunity to serve in our roles on the board of directors as a demonstration of our commitment to our country and its economy. We remain, as always, willing to serve where our skills and talents can best be utilized to make a positive contribution. We sincerely wish the company, Board of Directors, management and the shareholder the very best in Air Namibia’s future endeavours.”