Something fishy at Air Namibia
Last week the Air Namibia Board went out of its way giving an early Christmas day to every media house that needed a full page advert in a bid to exonerate themselves from what they termed malicious and factual reporting by a weekly Newspaper.
However no prizes for guessing which weekly newspaper.
It is not unusual that there is more than what catches the eye at the national airliner and the board is not willing to come out in the open and engage with members of the fourth estate. Perhaps if the communication structures in the beloved company are sufficient, they should advise their board that thwarting information will result in that very information finding its way out of the company in abundance.
The Air Namibia Board argued that they are not leasing any plane that they are not using although there is sufficient evidence and documents showing that the company is indeed bleeding public money for a service that they are not using.
It is also very ironic that the Board of the Airliner is denying paying a fortune for grounded planes while the line Minister gives The Villager an in-depth interview admitting that the airliner is indeed leasing planes that they are not using because the company entered into agreements that are not progressive for them.
Minister Nghimtina says it bluntly in this week’s interview with this paper that, “The problem that the airliner is facing with the leased planes that are grounded is because they signed unnecessarily long contracts. It is unfortunate that they have to pay for those planes but it would be more costly for us to terminate the contracts because a legal battle will ensue and that can be even more costly for us.” See more on this on our lead page on P4.
Doesn’t it baffle your mind that what the board is vehemently refuting is well concretised by the appointing authority? The Air Namibia Board also goes out of its way to say that they did not engage in a 36 month unnecessary contract with Luftansa Technique while this paper is in possession of the contract signed by the Board Chairperson Haroldt Schmidt despite being advised not to do so by the financier RMB Bank.
It is also rather fishy that the Air Namibia Board tries to sell the idea that they were given the go ahead by the Division of Civil Aviation to have the current management but they deliberately do not mention that the DCA certificate was also issued on the experience of one of the suspended Namibian managers. Once again The Villager is in possession of this document.
The certificate at hand also proves that the current management was approved as follows, Accountable Manager/Managing Director, Gsponer, General Manager Technical and Operations, Sheelongo (suspended), Senior Manager Quality Safety and Security, Larry Makanza (Zimbabwean), Senior Manager Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering, Francis Pwapwa (Zimbabwean), Manager Safety Captain Marco Konings (Namibian), Manager Training Captain Ray Sheikham (Arab) and Ground Operations Noks Katjiuongua (Namibian and suspended).
While this was the structure approved by the DCA, Air Namibia also ought to explain to the Namibian nation why there are now only some of the managers given the nod by DCA while the other locals are nowhere to be found. Although it is not one thing anyone would not want to get into one can sense a definite conspiracy to try and cut out others while praising the rest.
As a public company Air Namibia should be as transparent as possible with information and be willing to share every little detail about matters hampering their company because the ordinary Namibian who is paying them deserves to know this.
However, it is disheartening to say the least, to know that the Board Chairperson was contacted through email, phone calls and he promised to respond to the enquiries but still went against his word. Having done that he still went ahead and used public money to defend himself through a paid press statement that is more unclear than their operations.
There is also sufficient evidence proving that Air Namibia is losing about US$27m (N$270m) in leasing and maintenance fees and an additional US$40m (Approximately N$400m) depositors fees for a period of between three to 12 months for planes that they are not using. This is a result of the airliner failing to acquire an Aircraft Technical Record (ATR) for the four airlines that they are leasing without using.
Maybe what is new is that the Board should tell the nation why they are caught up in a cobweb like that than to say certain individuals have an agenda against them. The Airliner is a public institution that is bound by accountability, public scrutiny and widespread media coverage and no one has a personal vendetta against them but anything that is not benefiting the nation on their part certainly makes big news.
There is also a need for the Airliner to explain why they have a duplication of roles. While it is normal to have a company spokesperson (which they already have) and a company secretary (which they also have), is it not unusual to have another Board Spokesperson. How much information is the Airliner handling that the company needs to have two mouth pieces and also forgetting that the Acting Managing Director and the Board Chairperson are two more people responsible for communication for the company? Perhaps that is the reason why there is no cohesion with the Spokesperson of the Board saying one thing while the Board Chairperson is saying another thing.