Namibia: Air Namibia Moves to Fill Leadership Void

12 April 2019

Windhoek — With only two of Air Namibia's seven executive positions being held by substantive officials, the struggling airline's Board of Directors has appointed new interim leadership to steer the airline out of the financial and human resource turbulence engulfing it.

The board, New Era understands, has also engaged in frank engagements with government, as the sole the shareholder, in an effort to bring the airline to the desired financial and operational altitude.

Currently, Xavier Masule(General Manager for Commercial Services) and Larry Makanza(General Manager for Quality Assurance) are the only executives employed on a fulltime basis.

Also, the last time the company had a substantive managing director in 2015.

Recent developments at the airline indicate that after having appointed Xavier Masule as the Interim CEO in charge of and focussing on the day-to-day business, the airline has also appointed Ingrid Cupido as the airline's statutory Senior Accountable Manager (SAM), principally responsible for overall aviation regulatory compliance and activities and Wimpie van Vuuren as the Acting General Manager: Commercial Services.

"We realise that there is steady interest in the future of the national airline. And rightly so, as Air Namibia is one of Namibia's once-beloved jewels that we would all love to see sparkling again as a symbol of our national pride," said Board Chairperson, Adv Deidre Sauls-Deckenbrock.

She added that in forging a fresh new path for the future so as to realise the vision of restoring confidence in the airline, the newly appointed board is unequivocal that what qualified as 'business-as usual' for the past 20 years cannot continue and that robust short-and long-term changes are required.

Recently appointed interim CEO, Masule, holds a B.Comm (Accounting) and an MBA degree. In addition to his qualifications, he is a seasoned professional with over 19 years of aviation industry experience and is certified and recognized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as an Aviation Management Professional.

In line with accepted aviation industry practice, the board has identified Cupido as the SAM. Civil aviation regulations that require a SAM be appointed but do not require the SAM to be the CEO. Cupido is a seasoned legal professional in the aviation sector, and as a suitable candidate has embarked on accreditation by the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

"The board has in accordance with due process, engaged with and duly informed the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of its nominee for accreditation. The process is following its ordinary course," said Sauls-Deckenbrock.

Meanwhile, Van Vuuren has more than 26 years of commercial experience in the aviation industry, both locally and internationally, and previously successfully ran the Air Namibia Frankfurt station.

"The board recognizes that safety, stability and business continuity are non-negotiable, and are among the top drivers of the work currently under way to lay the foundations for Air Namibia's robust turnaround. Therefore, these interim arrangements have been made in order to allow incumbent post holders to focus on fixing the core operations in their respective posts, as well as to enable management Exco members to prioritise their efforts to address and improve performance in critical performance areas. The forward-looking strategy for the business, once finalised, as well as the structure and capability that will deliver the strategy, will inform the final permanent management structure for the airline," Sauls-Deckenbrock concluded.

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