The government of Namibia has struck a deal with American aircraft lessor Castlelake to lessen the N$2.5 billion debt owed by the liquidated Air Namibia.
As sole shareholder of Air Namibia, the government on February 22 passed a special resolution for the voluntary winding up of the airline in terms of the Companies Act.
Minister of public enterprises Leon Jooste did not give the actual discount agreed on by both parties, he however revealed they are almost finalising the arrangement.
The now-defunct airline’s debt stemmed from hastily cancelling the rent of two Airbus A330 aircraft. The liquidation was confirmed on March 26 this year.
Jooste stated to newsmen that “We have been negotiating with the lessor for several weeks and will finalise the lease termination agreement soon.”
Air Namibia was expected to pay approximately 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 and workers will receive the remaining N$139 million in July this year.
Jooste said the airline’s liquidators, Ian McLaren and David Bruni, indicated they paid workers’ severance packages by the end of April. He maintained that the government will be paying full salaries.
“The N$278 million is paid in two instalments. Half has been paid,” he said.
“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 bonuses.
Former board of directors had agreed in principle that 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.
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