Finance Minister Shiimi says the country could no longer afford Air Namibia

Finance Minister Shiimi says the country could no longer afford Air Namibia

Minister of Finance, Iipumbu Shiimi said the taxpayers have spent over N$8 billion on Air Namibia to keep it afloat. He said the airline has never been profitable, hence the decision to liquidate it.
The national carrier announced last night that operations came to a halt and that 636 workers were sent home.
The country can no longer afford to keep spending on the company, "given all the competing priorities", said Shiimi at a press conference in Windhoek on Thursday.
Government took the decision after exploring a number of options, including approaching other airlines to take over Air Namibia.
Shiimi says Government will pay the cost of the aircraft that Air Namibia leased as Government guaranteed those obligations, he said.
The decision to close Air Namibia was not linked to the promotion of a private airline.
Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste denied insinuations that he has shares or interests in local airline West Air.
Jooste also said that besides the airline's historic debt its business model has also been flawed, with the wrong aircraft servicing wrong routes and too many staff, which rendered the national airline unprofitable.
Earlier today, the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) secretary-general Job Muniaro called on the governing party to fire Jooste and called on Cabinet to reverse its decision and stop the voluntary liquidation of Air Namibia.
On 29 January, lawyers representing Air Namibia and Belgian company ChallengeAir SA, who applied to the Namibian High Court to have the carrier liquidated, reached an agreement shortly before the liquidation proceedings were to start in the High Court in Windhoek.
The board resigned on 3 February.