While it has emerged that Air Namibia’s business model was clearly flawed, trade unions, radical pressure groups and vocal citizens are up in arms against the government of Namibia’s decision to liquidate the company.
The airline which is wholly owned by the government is reported to have been making losses upon losses every year ever since its establishment 74 years ago.
In the last two decades the losses have been growing in double digits, so much so that government had to pump in hundreds of millions of Namibia dollars every year – totaling more than N$8 billion over 20 years.
The company is said to be in debt to the tune of N$1,3 billion, while its assets are less than 1 billion.
What has emerged as worrisome is not only that the company has not produced audited financial reports for many years (flouting the law with impunity), but that during the months when the airline was grounded as a result of Covid-19-world-lockdown the airline was making less losses compared to when the company was operating.
That means that the airline was more “profitable” when it was not flying than when it was flying.
Hence government’s decision to shut it down. The logic is that the government can no longer afford to pump more money into a business which is better dead than alive.
Yet such a decision has not settled well with some sections of the Namibian society.
Trade unions are concerned about the future of the more than 600 employees of the company. Radical pressure groups are concerned about the fact that this shall add more salt to the wound of unemployment in the country. Vocal citizens are fighting for their national pride in not letting the country’s flagship to die; while politicians just want to score political points.
Those commentators who feel nothing about the demise of the airline say that the airline’s grave was dug by the ruling class who wanted to fly first class to world destinations even while it made no business sense for the airline to fly there.
But those commentators who feel sad as a result of the dark cloud surrounding the airline say that the airline contributed so much to the Namibian economy by bringing in tourists so that the losses it was making was insignificant in comparison to the value it brought indirectly to the market.
But all in all Air Namibia has been a hollow shell and skeleton of an airline flying around the world, so that the government only signed its death certificate last week for a death that happened more than ten years ago.