Ethiopian Airlines and Emirates are among the “potential” suitors being considered as a partner to help the Namibian government revive Air Namibia.
According to a report by The Namibian, the country’s present Hage Geingob wants to revive the airline, which was liquated two years ago, by securing a partner, and both ET and Emirates are among those that expressed an interest in reviving the defunct national airline.
During a recent visit to Ethiopia for the 36th ordinary session of heads of state and government at the African Union (AU), Geingob met with Ethiopia Airlines’ board chairman, Girma Wake and group chief executive officer Mesfin Tasew to discuss potential cooperation, the report added.
The visit was described by presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari as “prospective”, who also noted that Geingob had presented a “roadmap” to revive Air Namibia, the report continued.
Hengari also noted that the Namibian government would be responsible for steering cooperation with a potential partner to ensure that the country’s interests are met. However, a decision has not yet been made to work with any partner.
“Ethiopian Airlines expressed an interest in cooperating with Namibia in that endeavor, but it does not imply that a decision has been taken to work with Ethiopian Airlines,” Hengari said, as reported by The Namibian.
Emirates was also listed as a potential partner.
Other bidders for Air Namibia
A letter from BDS chairman Sabelo Williams dated January 4, 2022, to David Bruni and Ian McLaren, Air Namibia’s liquidators, noted the South African airline’s intent to assume 100% ownership of Air Namibia’s liquidated assets. The letter also indicated that the airline was ready to sign and complete the transfer of ownership on January 20, 2022.
Almost a year after the Namibian government terminated Air Namibia’s operations on February 11, 2021, BDS Airways, a new consumer airline based in Johannesburg, South Africa, offered NAD1.4 billion ($94 million) to acquire Air Namibia.
BDS Airways made an initial offer of NAD3.2 billion ($214 million) for Air Namibia in November 2021, of which NAD1.5 billion ($100 million) would be immediately allocated to pay off the airline’s debts. However, the offer was withdrawn.
Prior to Air Namibia’s liquidation, which followed the halt in operations, the airline had built up significant debt during a 10-year period.
In January 2021, Namibia’s Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi revealed that despite government efforts, which included injecting NAD8.4 billion ($564 million) to bail out the national airline, Air Namibia has still acquired significant debt.
According to Shiimi, Air Namibia had been a flawed business model since the beginning, rendering 15 out of its 19 routes unprofitable.
The history of Air Namibia
Air Namibia was established in 1946. Its first regularly scheduled flights between Windhoek, Namibia, and Grootfontein, Namibia, were launched in 1949. After renting a B737-200 from South African Airlines, it began operations in 1989. In 1991, the airline was renamed Air Namibia.
The airline has operated both narrowbody and widebody aircraft throughout its history. The airline used aircraft such the Embraer ERJ-135, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8, Airbus A319, and Boeing 737s for its domestic and regional services.
Historically, the Airbus A330 and A340, along with the Boeing 767, made up its widebody fleet. The airline once flew using a Boeing 747 fleet that included both its own B747-400 Combi and aircraft leased from South African Airlines.