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Government instrumental in Air Namibia’s collapse: Unions

Summary

The joint union committee of the Namibian Cabin Crew Union (NCCU), Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAU), and the Namibia Airline Pilots Association (NAPA) said the government has been instrumental in the failure Air Namibia.In a joint sta…

The joint union committee of the Namibian Cabin Crew Union (NCCU), Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAU), and the Namibia Airline Pilots Association (NAPA) said the government has been instrumental in the failure Air Namibia.

In a joint statement Friday, the unions said it is clear from the challenges faced by the national airline that the government does not have an appetite nor the political will to rescue the airline from its impasse.

Air Namibia has been struggling financially for years and the government, according to the Ministry of Finance, has spent about N.dollars 8 billion to bail it out from financial troubles that are still persisting. Recently the airline reached a settlement with Belgium’s Challenge Airlines who had taken them to court for unpaid debt. This could have led to Air Namibia’s liquidation. The settlement states that Air Namibia will pay Challenge Air 9.9 million Euro of which 5 million Euro must be paid by 18 February 2021. The agreement is not backed by the government.

“We have to be honest and open on how Air Namibia reached this status, it was by years and years of mismanagement backed by boards of directors that either never understood the aviation business environment or had something to gain on a personal level,” the unions’ statement reads.

It further claimed that the problems with the airline mainly emanate from political interference in the operations of the airline, shareholder conflict of interest, the employment of incompetent people into key and critical positions as well as having unqualified people in a dynamic business environment.

The unions noted that, as employees and stakeholders in the aviation industry, they are deeply concerned and would like to know how the government will deal with the airline’s situation considering the interest of the workers and the nation at large.

According to them, it is their belief that the airline can be reshaped into a cheaper model. The reshaping of the airline, they said, does not have to cost N.dollars 7 billion nor should it include terminating the Frankfurt route which has been flagged as a loss-making route as according to them, the lease of a certain A330 aircraft used for that route is what made the route expensive and as such that contract should either be terminated or Government should make details of the contract public.

“We object to the closure of the national airline in any form and demand from our shareholder to honour the Challenge Air settlement agreement. The employee representatives at Air Namibia seek an audience with the Cabinet Committee on Treasury on an urgent basis.”

Secretary to the Cabinet George Simataa said they have not received the request from the union and referred Nampa to Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi who heads the Cabinet Committee on Treasury.

Finance Ministry spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu said they too have not received the request, but noted that their position remains the same - they will continue with consultations and inform the nation on the way forward.

Source: Nampa