Govt Suspends Private Hiring of Falcon Jets

Government has suspended with immediate effect the hiring of government jets for private trips. But the Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina, yesterday was at pains to explain that the suspension is temporary. He said it in no way stems from recent media reports of young businesspeople who hired the government Dassault Falcon 7X to Brazil for the World Cup finals, with Prime Minister Hage Geingob as their guest. The suspension, Nghimtina says, is to allow the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to conduct and complete its audit on Namibia, to determine whether the country has been compliant in terms of its set civil aviation standards. “For now, [the suspension] means if you have money and you want to fly to Paris, then you cannot hire the government Falcon until further notice,” Nghimtina told New Era in an exclusive interview.

“The decision is temporary until the UN body which is busy in the country auditing to see if Namibia has been 60 percent compliant to the ICAO requirements or not. Namibia has all along not been meeting the ICAO set requirements.

“Namibia has been 49 percent compliant, which is very low. Now we will check how far we have gone and I hope we will be more than 60 percent compliant to travel to international destinations and also allow international airlines to over flow Namibia. This auditing is just for government planes, it does not include Air Namibia,” he said.

The works minister said should the ICAO audit concludes that Namibia lags in compliance with the set standards, with the compliance not above the 60 percent threshold, then the government jets would not be opened up for private leasing and would be restricted for government transport only until further notice. In the meantime, the jets would continue to be used for government travel, carrying government officials on government duties.

Local businessman Desmond Amunyela, director of Paragon, had to respond to intense media speculations last week after pictures of Geingob with local young businesspeople at World Cup finals went viral, with suggestions that taxpayers funded the trip aboard the government Falcon 7X jet.

Source : New Era