Air Nam tries to resolve N$26m IATA debt

The national carrier has paid N$51 million in refunds to passengers as a consequence of the lockdown.

06 November 2020 | Transport

OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

Air Namibia says it is in discussions with government to settle its N$26 million debt with the International Air Travel Association (IATA).

The airline admitted last month that it owed the association overdue fees, and that its membership was subsequently suspended.

“The matter remains one between Air Namibia, IATA and the shareholder [government] with discussions to resolve the matter without further undue delay ongoing,” the airline said.

It, however, mentioned that it had paid N$51 million in refunds to passengers as a consequence of the lockdown.

“The total refund claim amount for unflown tickets is difficult to quantify since some claims are being processed, some are being registered as we speak and some have been paid out,” the airline said.

“That is why, apart from processing refunds, the airline has offered passengers flexible rebooking options, enabling passengers to utilise their tickets at a later stage.”

Passengers may also convert their ticket to credit vouchers, valid for 12 months from the date of issuance.

Public enterprises minister Leon Jooste did not comment when asked what the government’s role was in trying to solve the impasse between Air Namibia and the travel association.

Covid-19 to blame

Air Namibia raked up the IATA debt during the Covid-19 state of emergency, when it was unable to operate and generate income to refund passengers who had booked flights.

“These tickets now need to be refunded to the passengers and IATA is mainly used for this purpose, which is where the exposure originates from. Air Namibia has been processing these refunds from March 2020,” the airline said.

Last month, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents informed the airline that it had been suspended from its integrated surveillance system (ISS) operations.

“In accordance with the passenger agency conference resolution, the airline has been suspended from all ISS operations,” it said.

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