BDS Airways, a new consumer airline based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has offered NAD1.4 billion (USD 94 million dollars) to acquire full ownership of Air Namibia.
According to The Namibian, BDS chairman Sabelo Williams wrote a letter dated January 4, 2022, to David Bruni and Ian McLaren, the flag carrier’s liquidators intent to assume 100% ownership of Air Namibia’s liquidated assets. This indicated that the airline was ready to sign and complete the transfer of ownership on January 20, 2022.
The Namibian government, Air Namibia’s sole shareholder, terminated the flag carrier’s operations abruptly on February 11, 2021, due to a history of state-aided cash injections and a huge lessor debt. In the 10-year period prior to the airline’s liquidation, the government injected NAD8.4 billion, ($546 million dollars), according to aeroTelegraph .
BDS Airways made an initial offer of NAD3.2 billion (USD 214 million) for Air Namibia in November 2021, of which NAD1.5 billion (USD 100 million) would be immediately allocated to pay off the airline’s debts. However, the offer was withdrawn, and no reason was given.
Air Namibia dates to 1946, and its first scheduled operations commenced in 1949 on a domestic route between Windhoek, Namibia and Grootfontein, Namibia. Its jet operations started in 1989 after leasing a South African Airways B737-200, and the airline was named Air Namibia in 1991.
Throughout the airline’s history, its fleet has comprised of both narrow and widebody aircraft. For its domestic and regional routes, the airline operated aircraft such as Embraer’s ERJ-135, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8, Airbus A319 and Boeing 737s.
Historically, its widebody fleet consisted of the Airbus A330 and A340 as well as the Boeing 767. At one point the airline operated flights with a fleet of Boeing 747s comprised of its own B747-400 Combi and units leased from South African Airways.
Air Namibia is not the only flag carrier in Africa to show signs of a turnaround.
Similarly, Lusaka-based Zambia Airways launched its operation on December 1, 2021 backed by a joint venture between Ethiopian Airlines and the Industrial Development Corporation Limited (IDC), a government-owned financial institution based in South Africa. Air Congo is on a similar trajectory as its operations launch will be backed by a partnership between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopian Airlines.