23 January 2019

Namibia: Liquidated Belgian Company Pressuring Air Namibia

AIR NAMIBIA says a liquidated Belgian aviation company is putting pressure on it to pay N$400 million, despite an ongoing court case between the parties.

The state-owned company released a statement on Wednesday morning about a German court judgement in 2015 in favour of liquidated Belgium-based aviation company Challengair over a transaction which took place 21 years ago.

The Namibian reported last year that the government will defend a case brought by Challengair in the Namibian High Court in which it threatens to take over Air Namibia and TransNamib properties because of a disputed payment.

TransNamib is a party in the legal battle because it ran Air Namibia at the time the lease deal was signed.

The dispute is about a March 1998 deal in which Air Namibia agreed to lease a 351-seat plane - a Boeing 767-300 - from Challengair.

Air Namibia terminated the agreement after discovering the aircraft was defective. A day after the termination, Challengair was placed into liquidation, but the transaction has continued to haunt Namibia's national airline.

Air Namibia spokesperson, Paul Nakawa, said in Wednesday's statement that Challengair has initiated attachment proceedings in Germany based on the 2015 German court ruling.

He added that the airline was still waiting for the Namibian High Court judgement in the case heard last year.

"The recent steps taken by Challengair in Europe, despite the outcome of the proceedings in the Namibian High Court still being awaited, has caused financial prejudice to the airline, such being clearly aimed at exerting pressure," he said.

Nakawa added: "The airline hereby takes the opportunity to assure all its stakeholders that all necessary steps are being taken, including but not limited to engaging the claimant directly to find a permanent solution to the matter."

According to online Swiss airline news service, Ch-aviation, the German court ruling carries significant weight as Air Namibia flies to Frankfurt and has assets, including bank accounts, in the German city.

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