Samson Takes Over the Reins At Air Namibia (allAfrica.com)

Air Namibia yesterday appointed Advocate Ellaine Samson as its new acting Managing Director after it recently announced that it would not renew the contract of the current acting MD and operations manager, Rene Gsponer, whose contract expires at the beginning of November.

Samson’s contract with the airline is valid for one year, provided that the airline does not find a more suitable candidate to appoint within that time.

Announcing the appointment yesterday, chairman of the airline’s board, Gerson Tjihenuna, said: “As far as the board is concerned a settlement has been reached with the former MD, Theo Namases, and that is the closure of that chapter.”

It was widely reported that the settlement agreement would ensure Namases receives N$3,3 million and she would benefit from subsidised flights and medical aid cover for her dependents and husband until her contract expires in 2017, or until she starts a new job.

Tjihenuna added that the airline would start advertising in local media for the position of MD by the end of this week. Meanwhile, Samson’s very impressive curriculum vitae includes a stint at the Office of the Attorney General, as well as advisory services rendered as a member of the committee negotiating Bilateral Air Service Agreements.

She also worked as General Manager for Corporate and Legal Services at the Namibia Airports Company and served as chairperson of the Board of Trustees at the Government Institution’s Pension Fund (GIPF).

She was also a Commissioner of the Law Reform and Development Commission and a member of a cabinet-appointed task team on the De Beers sales agreement.

On the aviation front, Samson, who has a private legal practice, assisted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in developing and drafting the Common Regulations of Competition in Air Transport Services within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community and SADC.

More recently she served as a consultant to the African Union tasked with drafting regulations of competition for air transport in Africa, and arbitration procedures.

Commenting on her appointment as acting MD, Samson emphasised the importance of the national carrier to the country’s economy. She said areas of focus while at the helm of Air Namibia would include issues of compliance as well as the financial position of the company.

“The board will expect me to look into the ‘red card’ issue with immediate effect. I will also focus on the airline’s financial position, as it is currently a huge drain on the fiscus. Thirdly, I will look at technical issues,” Samson noted.