MINISTER of public enterprises Leon Jooste says the government has struck a deal with American aircraft lessor Castlelake to reduce the N$2,5 billion debt owed by the now-defunct Air Namibia.
Although Jooste could not give the actual discount agreed on by the two parties, he revealed they are in the final phase of making the arrangement.
The liquidated airline's debt stemmed from renting two Airbus A330 aircraft before cancelling the deal prematurely due to the unviability of the company.
"We have been negotiating with the lessor for several weeks and will finalise the lease termination agreement soon," Jooste yesterday said.
The lease agreement showed that Air Namibia had to pay roughly N$16 million per aircraft on a monthly basis.
The minister said the government has managed to pay out N$139 million in salaries to the airline's over 600 workers.
This is half of the N$278 million payment made around March or April.
Employees will receive the remaining N$139 million in July this year.
Jooste maintained that the government will be paying full salaries.
"The N$278 million is paid in two installments. Half has been paid," he said.
He said the airline's liquidators, Ian McLaren and David Bruni, indicated they paid workers' severance packages by the end of April.
Namibian Sun on Friday reported that this amount equates N$105 million.
"The liquidators are responsible for the severance pay, not the government," Jooste said in response to some workers claiming they have not received their severance packages.
According to a 2019 discussion paper drafted by the former board of directors, N$2,4 billion needs to be paid to foreign owners.
In addition to paying the lease, Air Namibia may forfeit the security deposit currently sitting with the lessor, amounting to N$94 million.
The government as sole shareholder of Air Namibia on 22 February passed a special resolution for the voluntary winding up of the airline in terms of the Companies Act.
The special resolution was lodged and registered with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) on 24 February. The winding up was confirmed on 26 March this year.
According to a statement filed at Bipa, Air Namibia's assets are worth N$1,04 billion and its liabilities amount to nearly N$5,4 billion.
Air Namibia's single biggest liability amounts to N$2,5 billion, which is the cost of terminating the 12-year lease agreement with Castlelake, the statement says.