Namibia considering options for struggling national flag carrier – finance minister

114

The Namibian government is weighing several options regarding the future of struggling national carrier Air Namibia, new Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi told parliament on Thursday.

Shiimi said it was important to have a national airline but said state-owned Air Namibia’s current model, including its new business plan, is neither sustainable nor affordable.

He said the airline, which operates two Airbus A330-200 planes, four Airbus A319-100 aircraft and four Embraer ERJ 135 jets, has over 5 billion Namibian dollars ($295 million) in debt, including leaseholds.

More than 7 billion Namibian dollars is needed in the current financial year alone for the new business plan to be implemented, Shiimi said, without giving details of the new plan.

“This makes it unaffordable as resources are needed for other priorities such as health, education, housing and sanitation, etc. during these difficult times,” the minister added.

Media reports have suggested that the Cabinet Committee on Treasury (CCT), which is chaired by Shiimi, wants to create a watered-down regional Air Namibia. Finance ministry spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu declined to comment on a new strategy.

Shiimi said the committee has so far consulted the Air Namibia board and trade union representatives to get their views on restructuring the airline.

Namibian President Geingob, in his State of the Nation Address last month, called for Air Namibia to be liquidated because of its constant financial woes and government bailouts.

The airline has failed to produce financial statements in recent years despite gobbling up more than 8 billion Namibian dollars in state funds from 1999 to 2018.



Shiimi’s predecessor, Calle Schletwein, has also supported shutting down the airline, which employs around 780 people.