Govt orders Air Namibia to sort out mess

30 January 2019 | Transport

Air Namibia has been instructed by government to seek an amicable solution with liquidated Belgian firm Challenge Air SA, so that the national carrier's assets are not attached.

Challenge Air successfully brought a German court matter against Air Namibia, which was ordered to pay over N$360 million as well as an added amount of US$1 335 daily in respect of unpaid maintenance for the leasing of a defective Boeing 767 in 1998.

This follows a judgment on 12 January 2015 brought Challenge Air liquidator, Belgian attorney Anicet Baum, against Air Namibia and TransNamib, which was at the time the holding company of the airline.

Providing an update on the matter this week, Air Namibia spokesperson Paulus Nakawa said they were advised to seek an amicable solution.

“Air Namibia had engaged the shareholder [government]. The shareholder noted the matter and indicated that they shall consider the matter further, including through advice from the attorney-general,” said Nakawa.

“The shareholder has not committed to action with respect to the matter, but has in light of the fact that Air Namibia is a private entity, advised the airline to consider options aimed at resolving the matter in the interim.”

Attorney-general Albert Kawana, public enterprises minister Leon Jooste, transport minister John Mutorwa and finance minister Calle Schlettwein met with the Air Namibia management on Monday to discuss the implications of Challenge Air SA's lawsuit.

Jooste had informed Namibian Sun that the matter had been escalated to Kawana.

“The item has been referred to the attorney-general for an opinion and recommendations,” Jooste said.

The Munich Regional Appeal Court ruled on several payments Air Namibia had to make in respect of monies owed to Challenge Air, totalling - at today's exchange rate - in the region of N$360 million, with an added daily payment of US$1 335 in respect of unpaid maintenance.

Air Namibia had 30 days to lodge an appeal, but did not do so.

The attachment of Air Namibia's assets stems from this judgment.

Air Namibia was also warned that it could be barred from flying into Europe, while Challenge Air successfully retrieved N$10 million from its European banking accounts so far this year.

Air Namibia was also informed that the assertion that it does not have assets in Europe, “does not absolve Air Namibia from its legal obligation” arising from the German court judgement.


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