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Air Namibia, the national carrier of Southern African nation, Namibia would cease to operate as from February 11, 2021 according to the management of the airline.
The cessation of operations of the airlines brings to the fore struggling African countries national carrier and at best many of them that are at the brink of collapse after so much public funds had been injected into them without hope of survival.
Their problems have been worsened by COVID-19 pandemic which is making the likes of South Africa Airways, Kenya Airways and many others to be a huge drain pipe to their respective governments.
In a statement made available to Aviation Metric “The Air Namibia management has just announced the airline will cease operations tomorrow, leaving over 600 employees without jobs following a cabinet decision to file for voluntary liquidation”.
“Effective Thursday morning, all flight operations will be cancelled, with all aircraft returning to base. The reservation system for taking new bookings is also suspended.”
According to the leaked documents, the Cabinet decided that the airline’s workers would enjoy preferential treatment and receive their full severance packages from the liquidators.
“We will also explain that Cabinet approved for the employees to receive ex gratia payments equal to the value of 12 months’ salary, and that this amount will be disbursed over a 12-month period,” the documents read.
Moreover, the shareholder said it would ensure there’s no salary payment gap when the liquidation is activated.
“If the liquidator can’t pay, the ex gratia payments would be activated,” it said.
Aviation Metric had recently reported on at-risk national carriers in Africa that are the verge of liquidation. One of them was Kenya Airways.
Africa’s airlines have been pushed to the precipice; no thanks to COVID-19. Many of them have been piling on debts long before the pandemic. Governments’ bailouts have been the oxygen sustaining them.
Questions are swirling in Africa and elsewhere over the financial wisdom of sustaining prestige carriers that often have a tiny share of aviation market that sees no recovery in sight. The advent of COVID-19 may have found expression in the deafening noise that national carriers are a drain on states’ resources
The sing song in Africa for now is national carrier. Governments may need to ask if there’s still value to having a national carrier other than patriotism or pride. And they may wonder whether it still makes sense to prop up airlines as more countries open their skies to new entrants and foreign carriers.
The Nigerian government is making attempt at a national carrier. It’s clear the government is driving it and wants its own national brand with a global reach.