Air Namibia's future remains uncertain

Flights to Namibia's southern neighbour will remain severely limited until the end of October.

30 September 2020 | Transport

RONELLE RADEMEYER

WINDHOEK



Although South Africa is reopening its borders to visitors from neighbouring countries tomorrow, flights to that country will remain limited for the time being from Namibia.

Except for a Westair flight to Cape Town and Johannesburg on Friday, Namibians will only be able to fly to South Africa from 12 October, when South African airline Airlink resumes its flight schedule between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Walvis Bay.

Air Namibia has not yet announced a resumption of its regional flights.

Airlink managing director Rodger Foster has indicated that the airline is waiting for approval from the International Civil Aviation Organisation to operate flights between Johannesburg and Windhoek. Airlink intends to utilise the unused aviation licences of South African Airways (SAA), Comair and SA Express, all three of which are in business rescue.

According to Westair executive Fred Ribeiro, the private Namibian airline will only resume its scheduled twice-weekly flights to South Africa by the third week of October.



No pay

Theo Mberirua, Air Namibia's interim CEO, said yesterday that the public would be informed at least a week in advance when the embattled national airline resumes its regional flights.

He could not say when that would be.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Air Namibia could not pay its staff salaries on Friday.

Employees were informed of a delay in processing their salaries, which would have been paid yesterday. The salaries of staff such as pilots and cabin crew, who are not working at the moment, have been cut by 50%. Mberirua said in a staff memo that plans to resume flights were hamstrung by the airline's inability to pay its creditors and overheads such as salaries. Public enterprises minister Leon Jooste told Republikein yesterday that the finance ministry had released money to Air Namibia on Friday to enable them to pay salaries.

He said an announcement on the airline's future would be made “soon”.

A strategic business plan aimed at turning Air Namibia into a profitable enterprise within five years has been submitted to the cabinet.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that citizens of approved countries may once more enter that country, provided that they test negative for the coronavirus less than three days before their planned visit. They will not be quarantined, unless they show Covid-19 symptoms upon arrival at the Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban airports.

Namibian motorists may also enter South Africa through the Nakop and Vioolsdrift border posts, on the same conditions.

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