Lawyers representing defunct Belgian airline ChallengeAir moved on Friday to seize Air Namibia’s headquarters after the state carrier failed to honour a €10M (US$12.14M) settlement agreement reached last month to save it from liquidation.
Air Namibia survived liquidation attempts by creditor ChallengeAir SA in January when the two firms reached the settlement agreement minutes before liquidation proceedings were due to kick off.
ChallengeAir filed in October for Air Namibia to be liquidated, arguing Air Namibia was insolvent and unable to repay about 253 million Namibian dollars (US$17M) in debt incurred for the lease of a Boeing 767 back in 1998.
Air Namibia had cancelled the lease agreement, after finding that the aircraft was defective. Negotiations between the two firms have been deadlocked since 2019.
In court papers filed on Friday and seen by Reuters, lawyer Sisa Namandje instructed the Deputy Sheriff for the district of Windhoek to seize and take over Air Namibia’s head office, valued at 45 million Namibian dollars (US$3M), to recover €5.8M that became due on Thursday.
As part of the settlement agreement, Air Namibia had agreed to pay ChallengeAir €9.9M, beginning with a €5.8M payment before Feb. 18 and monthly instalments thereafter, until January 2022. ChallengeAir went out of business more than two decades ago.
Namibia’s public enterprises minister Leon Jooste did not respond to text messages requesting comment sent by Reuters.
Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi announced last week that the airline has been placed into voluntary liquidation, calling the airline, which is 100% state owned, “unsustainable”.
The government valued Air Namibia’s assets at 981 million Namibian dollars, Shiimi said.
This week, the country’s biggest trade union, the National Union of Namibia, workers and several opposition parties held nationwide demonstrations against the government’s decision.
Air Namibia employs 644 workers. It has failed to produce financial statements in recent years despite receiving more than 8 billion Namibian dollars in state bailouts over the past two decades.