Racism rocks FlyNamibia

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Retired Pilot William Ekandjo, whose prospective airline, Fly Etosha was objected by FlyNamibia reportedly because of security concerns says he is being sabotaged because of his skin color. Ekandjo made these remarks in an interview with the Windhoek Observer, a day after Fly Namibia issued a statement denying that they made the objection because of perceived jealousy and fear of competition. Ekandjo had applied for a non-scheduled air transport service license.

“They are blocking me because of the color of my skin. As far as I am concerned this is the second time they are holding us back. The first time was in September 2021. They have been trying to hold us back from way before and this does not come as a surprise. First, there was an issue of the name and we ended up changing it to Fly Etosha because we didn’t want to waste time. Back in 2021 we had registered with Bipa as Fly Namibia Airways but then their lawyers and Bipa wrote to us to change the name. We did exactly that and we followed all the administrative processes that comes with name trademarking and registration,” he said.

According to documents seen by the Windhoek Observer, on 8 August 2022, lawyers representing Fly Namibia Aviation wrote a letter to Ekandjo requesting he changes the name Fly Namibia Airways.

“Any use of the mark Fly Namibia or any mark which is confusingly and deceptively similarto FlyNamibia Aviation’s trade mark would constitute and infringement of FlyNamibia Aviation’s rights. Furthermore, any use of the mark FlyNamibia would constitute a misrepresentation to the public. We request you formally change the name of the company,” read the letter.

The documents also show that on 29 September 2021 Fly Namibia Airways was registered under the Companies Act. Moreover, the following year on 29 September 2022 Bipa ordered Fly Namiba Airways to change their name after there was an objection from FlyNamibia Aviation against the registration of the company name Fly Namibia Airways. Through their attorneys Ellis and Partners, FlyNamibia submitted their objection to the Transportation Commission of Namibia earlier this week on Tuesday.

In their statement issued yesterday, FlyNamibia, which is 40% owned by South African-based airline, Airlink, mentioned issues such as a lack of financial resources, aircraft, maintenance facilities, ground-handling services, insurance cover, and personnel as reasons for its objection.

“As Namibia’s first privately-owned scheduled passenger airline, FlyNamibia’s chief concerns are directed towards quality services and, above all, passenger safety. As an airline, the merit of our objection to this application is based solely on our concerns of the rendering of safe, satisfactory and reliable service. The application as it currently stands has raised serious concerns as to the planned airline’s ability to ensure the safety of passengers. An unreliable airline with serious safety concerns could negatively affect the entire Namibian aviation industry and create negative public perception of the reliability and safety of all airlines and aircraft operators currently operating within Namibia,”FlyNamibia’s statement reads.

Ekandjo in response said he does not lack finance and a person or a company cannot purchase an aircraft if they don’t have an airline service license.

“How can we lack finance when anyone can finance us and how do you buy an aircraft if you don’t have an airline service license which they are blocking us from getting? Aviation is a well-regulated industry and our safety measures are of high standard,” Ekandjo remarked.

FlyNamibia’s objection was met with criticism from members of the public, who took to twitter to air their opinions.

“How does FlyNamibia know Fly Etosha Airlines doesn’t have the capacity they are claiming to have? Stop pocket watching and focus on yourselves. There are easier ways to say you fear competition . Now wait for Fly Safair to commence in June. Dan check jy”(sic), a Twitter user said.

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