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Menzies' Paragon contract struggle continues

2023-08-22  Roland Routh

Menzies' Paragon contract struggle continues

The High Court will decide on Menzies Aviation’s urgent application on 1 September to retain ground handling services at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA). The urgent hearing was heard yesterday before High Court Judge Hannelie Prinsloo. 

Menzies Aviation this weekend filed an urgent application against the manner in which they were evicted from the airport. Menzies is arguing that the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) ignored a notice of appeal and the Supreme Court's order that gave them until 10 September to vacate.

Menzies Aviation therefore remains adamant that their continued involvement in ground handling services at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) is valid, pointing to an agreement allegedly struck with the NAC in 2022.

Despite this position, NAC kicked Menzies out from the airport over the weekend, paving the way for Paragon, a local entity, to take over baggage handling responsibilities from the British-based firm.

The new agreement, Menzies stated, was entered into on 30 June 2022 after the expiry of the previous agreement signed between the two parties in January 2014.

It is Menzies’ fervent position that the new agreement between them and NAC was entered into after the tender was awarded to Paragon, and after NAC and Paragon purportedly entered into an agreement for Paragon to render ground handling services at the international airport. 

The British-based firm contends the tender awarded to Paragon is thus totally unenforceable in law and a nullity.

As such, Menzies remains convinces the award to Paragon should be set aside as the NAC entered into the agreement with Menzies out of its own volition. This was apparently done after Windhoek High Court Judge Orben Sibeya ordered Menzies to vacate the HKIA premises.

“On June 30 2022, and despite the eviction order handed down by Justice Sibeya, the NAC published to the world at large that Menzies must continue to render the ground handling services at Hosea Kutako International Airport,” Menzies stated.

Further, Menzies argues that the Supreme Court did not set a date upon which it must vacate the airport when it dismissed their appeal against Sibeya’s judgment.

However, Mensies states the NAC gave them notice to vacate the premises within a period of less than four days, despite the new agreement being in place.

Menzies further asserts that the notice period was wholly unreasonable, irrational and indeed impossible to comply with and therefore they decided to approach the High Court on an urgent basis to prevent NAC from implementing an unreasonable notice.

Consequently, Windhoek High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele granted Menzies the opportunity to be heard and declared the NAC’s notice period as unreasonable and declared a period of 30 days as reasonable under the circumstances.

This, Menzies argued, essentially meant Judge Ueitele gave NAC an opportunity to issue Menzies with a new notice of termination on the new agreement entered into and cannot rely on the eviction order of Justice Sibeya.

Crucially, Menzies stated, Justice Ueitele could not and did not set aside the eviction order granted by Justice Sibeya or any order made by the Supreme Court.

“Justice Ueitele simply found that the eviction order which was granted by Justice Sibeya, was overtaken by events when the NAC and Menzies entered into a new and independent agreement after Justice Sibeya’s judgment was handed down,” Menzies argues.  

What’s more, Menzies claims that in terms of the new agreement, NAC must provide them with at least a 12-month notice to vacate HKIA and no such notice has been given to date.

As such, Menzies is convinced that it is not only entitled, but also obliged, to continue providding ground handling services at HKIA.  

2023-08-22  Roland Routh

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