Andrew Kathindi

Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, revealed that Air Namibia was almost taken over by Turkish airliner, Onurair, prior to Cabinet approving voluntary liquidation.

Jooste said government sent invitations to airliners to try and save the national flag carrier, however nothing transpired.

“We were asked to write to all airlines currently operating to Namibia and those that we know are intending to come including this company. No formal response or request for further engagements were received from any of them,” Jooste told Windhoek Observer.

Onurair had shown interest in taking over the beleaguered Namibian airliner. According to documents from Onurair in possession of Windhoek Observer, the Turkish company was prepared to immediately bring in six airplanes.

“It is for this reason that I confirmed to the Ambassador of Namibia our firm interest to present to the Namibian government our proposals to take over and operating the international flights from Windhoek to Germany to ensure continuity of service.”

“In that case we are ready to relocate immediately 6 Onurair Airbus aircrafts including 2x A330-200 long-haul and 4x 320-200 short range feeder and distribution aircrafts to Namibia,” said Enver Arslan, General Coordinator of Onurair.

“Onurair will register a company in Namibia. Onurair is willing to transfer its aircraft A, B & Check maintenance, pilot and crew training capacity from Istanbul to Namibia to support the operations of the airline in Africa.”

Onur Air is a Turkish privately owned airline headquartered in the Technical Hangar B at Istanbul Ataürk Airport in Yesilöv, Istanbul. It operates mostly domestic schedule services.

According to the SOE minister, Onurair never responded to a request inviting them to further engage.

Air Namibia goes into voluntary liquidation after 75 years of operation. According to Jooste, the company has over N$3 billion worth of liabilities and N$981 million worth of assets. Over 600 jobs are set to be lost.

“It must be noted that government considered all other options, which included engagement with other airlines for potential investment/partnership, various business plans to turn around the company,” minister of Finance, Iipumbu Shiimi, said.

He added, “The net economic costs of Air Namibia’s operations far outstrip the net gains, and it is thus unsustainable. It is estimated that so far government has spent more than N$8 billion on Air Namibia. At this stage, the country’s economy can no longer afford to perpetually provide financial support to Air Namibia at the expense of supporting economic growth and critical social services.”

Affirmative Repositioning (AR) on Friday morning condemned government’s decision to liquidate Air Namibia.

“We call on the unions and workers to unite and fight against this deliberate voluntary liquidation of the national airline. The government is solely responsible for the current debt of Air Namibia. Therefore, the ordinary workers must not be held responsible by losing their jobs that support their families and relatives,” said AR spokesperson, Simon Amunime.