Businesses bemoan state-of-affairs at Air Namibia, call for intervention
WINDHOEK – The age-old adage ‘time is money and money is time’ relates more often than not to the business community. It is in this regard that the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has called on Air Namibia to ensure it regularly communicates and engages with stakeholders, particularly the business community, who place a premium value on time. This call emanates from a frustrated local business community that is complaining about the increasing inconvenience they experience due to delays or cancelations on Air Namibia’s flights.
While Air Namibia has historically struggled to turn a profit and has consistently asked government to subsidise its operations, its troubles have of late seemed to increase exponentially due to N$400 million being sought from a now defunct European aircraft company. The case, which originated from a lease agreement between Air Namibia and Challenge Air in 1998, continues to haunt the national airline and has taken its toll on the airline’s liquidity stance as it recently asked government for N$20 million to pay technical partners responsible for aircraft maintenance.
In fact, the number of serviceable Airbus A319 aircraft in Air Namibia’s fleet have been reduced to one aircraft as of Monday June 3, 2019, out of a total of four aircraft. The three other aircraft which are not in service underwent mandatory maintenance checks but were held by technical partners due to outstanding payments for work completed.
“Look, we understand Air Namibia’s predicament,” commented Chief Executive Officer of the NCCI Charity Mwiya. “Business people highly value their time and usually these business people schedule their travels well ahead of time. This is why it is so important for Air Namibia to engage key stakeholders like the NCCI so we can inform business people well in advance if there are issues with their flights,” said Mwiya. She added that flight cancellations and delays, which have become more and more frequent at Air Namibia, also become costly in terms of accommodation and alternative transport arrangement.
Adding to this sentiment, Tomas Iindji, the chairperson of the NCCI northern branch has called on government to intervene for the national sustainability of the airline.
“Apparently the cancelations of many of these flights came as a result of the Challenge Air case which has frozen Air Namibia accounts in Europe and elsewhere thus it’s hard for the national carrier to meet its liquidity obligations…It’s almost 21 years that this case is not being resolved and we demand the shareholder, which is the government, to intervene. The government’s much-needed intervention will guarantee the sustainability of the airline in order to continue providing much-needed air transport services for both cargo and passengers,” said Iindji.
Iindji added that the domestic economy is currently on its knees and that escalating delays and cancellations at Air Namibia making travel plans extremely difficult for business people.
“Air Namibia’s actions are of disservice to business people and to all customers of Air Namibia. If Air Namibia cannot operate what is it there for? We are now calling upon our government to intervene to prove to this nation that as shareholder, it still believes in its own flagship company. This is really disappointing and frustrating as we always need to adjust to accordingly,” Iindji concluded.
2019-06-11 10:02:05 4 months ago