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Air Namibia needs state aid once more

The African country already considered liquidating the heavily indebted national airline. Now Air Namibia can once again hope for state money.

Air Namibia was just able to avoid a grounding. In July, the Namibian transport authority revoked the licence of the national airline out of concern over debt and safety. Shortly before the suspension of flights was due, a court overturned the decision.

For years, the highly indebted Air Namibia has only been able to survive with government aid packages. After the coronavirus crisis once again made it difficult for the airline to survive, Namibia’s President Hage Geingob called for the liquidation of the constantly loss-making problem company in July. Right now, however, the airline can hope for support again.

Focus on short and medium-haul routes

Air Namibia is currently negotiating with the government for another aid package. This was reported by the New Era newspaper, which was given insight into a preliminary business plan that the airline has presented to the country. 193 million Namibia dollars – about 9.8 million Euros or 11.5 million US dollars – is demanded by the airline for a new start.

According to the document, the main focus is set on operating profitable routes with two Airbus A319 short- and medium-haul aircraft and four Embraer ERJ 145 regional jets. The airline plans to gradually expand its flight plan to pre-crisis levels. Since September, international flights have been operating from Namibia again, whereas in previous months Air Namibia only operated domestic routes.

Tough changes

A large part of the requested aid funds are needed by Air Namibia to pay for ground services and maintenance. Lower charges are being negotiated with the Namibian airport company NAC. Air Namibia is to pay about 50 per cent less airport charges over the coming six months. Discounts on fuel are also expected.

The staff is looking into a bad future. Theo Mberirua, Director of Air Namibia, wrote to unions saying that wage cuts were essential for the airline’s survival. The airline is considering cutting wages by about 50 percent.

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