Air Namibia Is In Trouble, Hasn’t Filed An Annual Report In Over A Decade

You can add Air Namibia to the list of African airlines that are in trouble (Kenya Airways and South African Airways are also on that list). What makes Air Namibia different is that they aren’t sure how much trouble they’re in, as they don’t know how much money they owe or how much money they need to operate going forward.

Air Namibia, the state-owned airline of Namibia, is at a point where banks are refusing to grant them credit to fund their day-to-day operations, after they’ve failed to publish annual reports for over 10 years (is the 10 year mark really the point at which you start to be concerned as a bank over the lack of annual reports?).

The small airline has received over 516 million USD from the government since 2000. Per Reuters:

Acting managing director of Air Namibia Mandi Samson said the company was suffering severe cash shortages, made worse by the recent decrease of government funding, with the southern African nation slashing spending to fend off ratings downgrades.

“We’re looking for financing from other countries such as South Africa, which brings the complication of currency exposure. It is not ideal, but if the entire country says they cannot assist us … we have to look elsewhere,” Samson was quoted saying by the newspaper.

An airline spokesperson has said that he’s not sure how much money the airline owes, or the amount of money the airline needs, as the company hasn’t published financial statements in so long. The government is also refusing to provide more support without financial reports, since they say that’s a basic requirement. Air Namibia hopes to have updated reports by June of this year.

Air Namibia operates a fleet of 10 aircraft, including two A330s, four A319s, and four regional jets. Their longest route is from Windhoek to Frankfurt, which I’ve been intrigued by.

What a mess…

(Featured image courtesy of Kambui)

Comments

  1. So Mandi Samson says “We’re looking for financing from other countries such as South Africa, which brings the complication of currency exposure. It is not ideal, but if the entire country says they cannot assist us … we have to look elsewhere…”

    Considering that Namibia pegs their currency (Namibian Dollar (NAD)) to the South African Rand (ZAR), isn’t it a bit disingenuous to bring up currency exposure? Air Namibia’s only currency exposure is that of the ZAR, which is the same as Namibia’s. Currency exposure would only impact Namibia if the ZAR fluctuates against other currencies, which is irrelevant in the conversation about getting cash from S. Africa, or am I missing something?

    And yes, not having an annual report for 10 years is…irregular, to say the least.

  2. Air Namibia are a decent little airline, but the bulk of their losses are probably on the flagship FRA-WDH route which must be bleeding money terribly now that airlines such as Qatar, KLM and Ethiopian are expanding capacity to Windhoek (it wasn’t particularly profitable even in the good times). I’ve dealt with them a fair bit over the years and they are quite keen and innovative, but in a state owned airline sort of way. The split of airports between Eros and Kutako doesn’t help them either as far as marketing their local connectivity. The longhaul operations albatross always hangs around their neck in terms of cash demands – they could probably make a go of it with a regional type operation using the 319s and RJs and consolidating operations somehow. Strategically though, it is hard to see how the government can let them fail considering how dependent they are on inbound tourism.

  3. I flew them last May in business class from FRA to WDH. Overall it was a very good experience. The FA serving us wasn’t the friendliest and the seats are a bit old but the pitch was enormous. For €900 it was a pretty good deal. Shortly after I purchased that ticket, Alaska partnered with Condor, which also flies the route. What a bummer, I could have earned Alaska miles! I returned using Emirates first class from Maputo, thanks to learning about that incredible deal on this blog!

  4. Perhaps the Windhoek to Frankfurt route is due to the fact that Namibia was a German protectorate from 1884 until German forces were defeated by South Africa in 1915 during WW1 and then in 1920 a League of Nations mandate gave the territory to the British, South Africa running it until independence in 1990.

  5. Thx for the compliment JiJi but it was Wikipedia, I recalled it being German, the rest was news to me.

    Germany was stripped of all of her colonies after WW1.

  6. Just flew Air Namibia by accident a couple days ago, as my British flight was canceled and was switched onto their earlier flight with just 2 hours notice (Windhoek isn’t that close to the airport either). I noticed during several recent trips to JNB that Windhoek flights were frequently canceled. I wonder if that’s related to their finances.

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