AIR Namibia remains in the air after the Namibian High Court on Thursday set aside the suspension of the carrier’s scheduled air service licence.
Following the court order, Air Namibia issued a statement saying it would continue to fly all domestic flights as per schedule.
The cash-strapped airline was grounded at midnight on Wednesday (July 8) after the Transportation Commission of Namibia suspended its scheduled air service licence, saying the airline was financially unable to provide a safe and reliable air service.
However, responding to an urgent application by Air Namibia, the Namibian High Court in Windhoek on Thursday morning interdicted the Transportation Commission from implementing the licence suspension, declaring it “unlawful and invalid”. The court ordered the respondents – the Transport Commission of Namibia, the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority, the Minister of Works and Transport and the Namibian Government – to show cause on August 3 why the interdict should not be made final.
In an earlier statement, Transportation Commission of Namibia chairperson, Eldorette Harmse, gave Air Namibia until July 22 to prove that it had enough funding to meet the requirements of the country’s Air Services Licensing Act, failing which the air licence would be cancelled. It also demanded a full report on the findings of a Lufthansa audit done in January following allegations around safety, operations and finances.
Air Namibia has been operating scheduled domestic services since May 6 as that country scaled down its COVID-19 alert level, but as yet has not been operating commercial regional or international flights.
The airline’s precarious financial situation already resulted in a suspension of its air licence in November 2019.
The airline needs N$8bn (R8bn) to carry on as a going concern, but has failed to produce financial reports in recent years, a requirement of Namibia’s Air Services Licensing Act. According to the commission, only N$983m (R983m) has been made available to the airline in the last budget, representing only 12% of the amount needed. “N$600m (R600m) of this amount will be taken up for payment of existing aircraft leases and the balance hardly covers the liability for unflown revenue. There is no availability of funds to pay other public enterprises or ordinary creditors,” the commission says. Last month, Namibian President, Hage Geingob, called for Air Namibia’s liquidation, saying his government could no longer bail out its flag carrier.