The Windhoek High Court is today expected to grant a final order for Air Namibia’s liquidation after the embattled national airline was placed under provisional liquidation in late February.
Acting High Court Judge Kobus Miller had postponed the matter to today in which the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) petitioned the court for Air Namibia’s compulsory liquidation.
Air Namibia ended its operations in early February after government opted for its voluntary liquidation following uninterrupted operations spanning for some 75 years, leaving over 600 without jobs.
Miller had issued an order to show cause to allow interested parties to give reasons why Air Namibia should not be liquidated and placed in the hands of the Master of the High Court on or before 26 March.
In his affidavit, NAC CEO Bisey /Uirab says the airports company, as well as Challenge Air, should receive preference over other creditors in the winding-up process. He further said the airline owes NAC close to N$714 million for aeronautical services, ground handling service and rental at various aerodromes across Namibia.
According to /Uirab, Belgian liquidators of Challenge Air are in a position to gobble up all of the proceeds of a sale in execution of Air Namibia’s assets should the airline be allowed to go down the road of voluntary liquidation, leaving the rest of its creditors high and dry.
Belgian liquidators have already attached movable assets of Air Namibia for failing to pay about N$103.2 million earlier this year as per agreement reached on 29 January. The national airline was due to pay the first instalment of 5.8 million euros (N$103.2 million) two weeks following an out-of-court settlement that was made an order of the court in January.
The remaining amount of 4 million euros (N$72.3 million) would have been paid in monthly instalments, with the final payment due in January next year, according to the agreement.
On 20 February, Anicet Baum, the sole liquidator of Challenge Air, made a submission to Windhoek’s deputy sheriff for the airline’s movable properties to be attached and publicly auctioned to raise N$103.2 million that is due for payment.
The dispute between Air Namibia and Challenge Air started from a leasing and maintenance agreement of a Boeing 767-33 aircraft, dating back to 1998.
Meanwhile, the Namibia Cabin Crew Union (NCCU) yesterday reflected on the national airline’s closure ahead of today’s ruling. The union said it was hurting to see innocent employees suffering as a result of actions undertaken by a few individuals.
“It hurts that innocent employees who had nothing to do with the mismanagement, corruption, financial incompetence and malfeasance at the company must bear the most brutal brunt from the liquidation and pay with their jobs and livelihoods,” the union said.
“These were breadwinners, single parents, people who had dependents and children to support who are out on the street and as usual, the executive management delinquents will not be held to account for collapsing Air Namibia and holding accountability and good corporate governance to ransom, in cahoots with certain politicians. It will be easy for the executive delinquents to get other jobs compared to the lowly skilled workers.”
According to the union, their fight was to save Air Namibia. “We fought the good fight, but due to financial constraints we decided to reluctantly abandon this mission. Our aim now is to secure all the monies owed to our members by Air Namibia and making sure they are not left at the wayside in this liquidation process.”