26 March 2012

Namibia: Search for National Airline Boss Goes On

Photo: Dean Morley/Flickr
Air Namibia Boeing 747SP.

WORKS and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina has admitted that the search for a new boss for Air Namibia is being hampered by the airline's troublesome performance record.

"People are not too keen to associate themselves with Air Namibia with all this business of bailouts and do not want those things on their CVs, but rather want to see that profits are being made," Nghimtina said.

The Namibian has it on good authority that the minister has personally been headhunting people for the position or has encouraged some to apply for the proverbial hot seat at the troubled airline.

Asked about this, Nghimtina said he is not the appointing authority, but the vetting for the job is done by Air Namibia's board of directors.

His job, he said, is only to confirm support for a particular candidate once a name is submitted by the board.

Nghimtina was confident that a shortlist of successful candidates should reach his office by the end of April.

The chairperson of the Air Namibia board, Hiyangerwa Asheeke, was tight-lipped when questioned about the candidates shortlisted for the job, but said enough applications were received for the process to continue and for recommendations to be submitted to Nghimtina's office.

Asheeke was positive about the impact Air Namibia's acting managing director Theo Namases has had over the last two years, saying that the implementation of the national airline's new strategic business plan has been successful under Namases's watch.

However, when asked whether any consideration has been given to appointing Namases as permanent managing director, both Asheeke and Nghimtina declined to comment.

Asheeke said it would not be appropriate for him to comment, and Nghimtina said he does not want to discuss individuals, but would rather prefer to focus on competencies.

Nghimtina has also expressed the desire for an individual with "the calibre" of Vekuii Rukoro, FNB Namibia Group chief executive, or Johannes !Gawaxab, managing director of Old Mutual's African business, for Air Namibia's top job. But the Works Minister has said that these two individuals are only an example of the kind of individual he is looking for.

Late last year and early this year media speculation was rife that former NDF chief Martin Shalli had been lined up for the Air Namibia managing director's job, and that the only thing standing between him and the job was Cabinet approval.

Local media reported last week that the Air Namibia board of directors had submitted the names of Shalli and Caroline Dunaiski to Nghimtina's office for consideration for the managing director's post.

While Nghimtina would not confirm this, he was very diplomatic on why Shalli had not been given the nod for the job.

The Works Minister said although the former NDF chief has the ability to meet the operational side of the post, the job also needs an individual who masters the financial and marketing aspects of the job.

Air Namibia has been without a permanent leader since former managing director Kosmas Egumbo decided not to renew his contract for a second five-year term in March 2010.

Since then Namases has held the reins at Air Namibia.

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