February is going from bad to worse for Air Namibia. Having had to cease operations last week, the former Namibian national airline now finds itself in a fresh spot of bother. Specifically, attempts are being made to seize the Windhoek-based carrier’s assets. The matter dates back to unpaid debt that it incurred after leasing a Boeing 767 in the late-1990s.
$17 million of unpaid debts
Reuters reported earlier today that a Belgian creditor is attempting to seize the assets of recently-liquidated Air Namibia. The lawyers looking to do so are representing also-defunct Belgian airline ChallengeAir. The move represents the latest step in an ongoing struggle between the two carriers that has lasted over two decades.
The matter dates back to a lease agreement in 1998, which saw the Namibian flag carrier take on a Boeing 767. However, after finding the aircraft to have been defective, Air Namibia decided to cancel the lease. Nonetheless, as recently as last October, it still owed ChallengeAir over 250 million Namibian dollars ($17 million) in debts incurred from the lease.
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These debts prompted ChallengeAir to file for Air Namibia to be liquidated. It initially survived a liquidation attempt in January, after reaching a €10 million ($12.14 million) settlement agreement. Air Namibia was due to pay the first €5.8 million ($7 million) yesterday, with the remainder being paid monthly until next January.
Failure to honor the settlement
However, the carrier failed to honor this agreement. As such, ChallengeAir’s lawyers have moved forward with their attempts to seize Air Namibia’s headquarters. According to Reuters, Namibian Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi values the airline’s assets at 981 million Namibian dollars ($67 million). The headquarters that the Belgian lawyers are looking to seize make up 45 million Namibian dollars ($3 million) of this total.
— AirNamibia -carrying the spirit of Namibia (@airnamibia1) February 10, 2021
In addition to the legal matters concerning ChallengeAir, Air Namibia also has the fallout of its recent demise to contend with. The carrier, which Finance Minister Shiimi called “unsustainable,” finally ceased flights and entered voluntary administration last week. Unions quickly petitioned for this decision to be reversed, and are said to be planning demonstrations in solidarity with the 650 employees set to lose their jobs due to the liquidation.
A diverse fleet over the years
According to Planespotters.net, Air Namibia had a nine-aircraft fleet at the time of its liquidation. This consisted of the following aircraft.
- Airbus A319 x3.
- Airbus A330 x2.
- Embraer ERJ-145 x4.
However, since its formation in 1946, the Namibian flag carrier has operated an interesting and diverse range of aircraft. Perhaps the most iconic of these were its Boeing 747s, of which it flew six examples across three variants between 1991 and 2004. Simple Flying took a closer look at Air Namibia’s 747 fleet last week.
Overall, the future remains uncertain for the airline. The petition to overturn the liquidation may suggest brighter days, but, for now, the proposed asset seizure by the Belgian creditors remains a very real threat.
What do you make of the attempt to seize Air Namibia’s assets? Did you ever fly with the airline? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.