Namibian President Hage Geingob has met with Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa International) top executives to explore how the carrier could assist the Namibian government in reviving its defunct national airline, Air Namibia (Windhoek International), reports The Namibian newspaper.

According to Geingob's spokesman Alfredo Hengari, the Namibian leader met with Ethiopian Airlines' chairman, Girma Wake, and Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on February 18 and 19.

Hengari said the meeting had been “prospective”. Geingob had highlighted a roadmap to revive the airline.

During his address at the AU summit, Geingob also reiterated the sentiment of the ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) that Namibia needed a national airline. He said a clear plan would be tabled at Cabinet-level for decision-making and operationalisation.

Air Namibia was liquidated in 2021 following years of incurring losses running into billions through mismanagement.

Hengari said: “The relevant ministries will lead the process. Ethiopian Airlines expressed an interest in cooperating with Namibia in that endeavour, but it does not imply that a decision has been taken to work with Ethiopian Airlines.”

He said the government was not limiting its search to Ethiopian Airlines. Several other carriers, including Emirates, had also expressed interest, he said.

Hengari said the government had learned important lessons from the collapse of Air Namibia and any partnership would have to benefit Namibia.

Asked whether the new Air Namibia would employ new staff or recruit former employees, Hengari said the government was “not yet at that point”. “That's like putting the cart before the horse because the issue is still nascent," he said.

A SWAPO national congress late last year directed the government to revive its defunct flag carrier to provide regional connectivity and bring tourists to the country. Earlier this year, the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) challenged the mother party to honour its congress resolutions.

ch-aviation has reached out to Ethiopian Airlines for comment. Ethiopian Airlines has a long-term strategy to establish multiple hubs in Africa and develop an extensive route network on the continent. To this end, it has already established several joint venture airlines, including Nigeria Air (currently on hold due to a legal challenge), Air Congo, ASKY Airlines, Zambia Airways, and Malawi Airlines. Less successful ventures include Tchadia Airlines, liquidated after three years of losses, and Ethiopian Mozambique Airlines, which has been mothballed indefinitely. It continues to talk to Guinea about a joint venture carrier as well.