13 February 2018

Namibia: Airnam Prays for Profit

Staff of beleaguered Air Namibia yesterday gathered to pray for divine intervention with the struggling parastatal's financial affairs.

This was confirmed by the airline's spokesperson, Paul Nakawa, who was one of the two masters of ceremony at the prayer gathering at their head office.

Nakawa said staff held prayer sessions once in a while, depending on the issues that afflicted the state-owned enterprise.

"During these trying times, it is our belief and conviction that God, whose power surpasses all human understanding, will intervene divinely! Where there is despair, he will give hope, and where there are uncertainties, he will give courage and wisdom. The prayer session for today was well attended, and we prayed for the continuance and prosperity of Air Namibia and Namibia at large," Nakawa said.

On Sunday, acting managing director Mandi Samson wrote to staff, reminding them of the voluntary prayer session scheduled for yesterday between 12h45 and 13h15.

In the email, Samson said the company faced various challenges, and that staff should join in the session to pray that the company overcomes the challenges.

"We are all aware of the challenges facing the national carrier of the Republic of Namibia, and it will indeed be appreciated if we can join in prayer, and through our common faith, believe that Air Namibia, which has existed in various forms for very many years, will continue its operations, will overcome its obstacles, and will be of pride to our country," she said.

Samson, who has been acting MD for over two years now, said all available employees not engaged in operational activities were invited to the prayer session which was held in the company's training room.

Air Namibia is one of the SOEs heavily dependent on government bailouts to continue operating, receiving over N$6 billion since 2000. According to the 2017/18 national budget, Air Namibia will continue to be a burden on state finances as it has been allocated N$486 million for 2017/18, N$494 million for 2018/19, and N$498 million for 2019/20.

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and other local media houses recently reported that President Hage Geingob had instructed the loss-making parastatal to account for its funds and to ensure that it becomes profitable soon or risk closure.

Air Namibia, which has been incurring losses of roughly N$250 million per year, promised to account to the public by releasing a consolidated report of its finances and operations for the last 10 years by the end of last year but had failed to do so. Its last annual report was for the 2003/4 financial year.

In a bid to make a case for its continued existence, the airline last May released a report by Oxford economist Ian Mulheirn which focused on the economic impact of the parastatal and projected that its direct economic impact would amount to N$1,7 billion by 2022.

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