The state-owned airline Air Namibia announced the cessation of its operations as of Thursday, after 74 years of activity in southern Africa, after the country’s government decided to voluntarily liquidate the company, which is millions of dollars in debt.
“Effective Thursday, February 11, all air operations will be cancelled, with all aircraft returning to base,” the company announced in a statement issued around midnight last night, EFE reported.
The Namibian state-owned airline, whose future had long been in the balance, invited passengers with booked flights to request a refund.
The announcement followed the Hage Geingob government’s decision to voluntarily liquidate the company, according to a leak of documents from a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
According to those texts, the airline’s just over 600 workers will be given “preferential treatment” in the liquidation process and will receive payments equivalent to 12 months’ salary.
“All efforts must be made to protect the company’s assets,” the Executive’s working documents state, according to the local newspaper The Namibian.
The Namibian government is thus seeking to prevent the assets of the company, founded in 1946, from being lost when the airline defaults on a large debt it owes to Belgian company Challenge Airlines dating back to 1998.
According to an agreement reached in January between Namibia and the European company, Air Namibia was to send a first payment of 107 million Namibian dollars (about 7.2 million dollars) by February 18, something which, according to the local press, it was not in a position to meet without financial assistance.
Apart from this commitment, the airline was making heavy losses and, as explained by the government when it was considering whether or not to continue rescuing the airline with public money, 15 of the 19 routes it operated were loss-making.