Lawyers representing defunct Belgian lessor Challengair (Brussels National) on February 19 moved to attach the assets of defunct Air Namibia (Windhoek Int'l) after the government failed to pay the first instalment on a EUR9.9 million (USD12 million) settlement which was due on February 18.

Reuters reports lawyer Sisa Namandje, in court papers filed on February 19, instructed the Deputy Sheriff for the District of Windhoek to seize and take over Air Namibia’s head office, valued at NAD45 million Namibian dollars (USD3 million), to recover the first instalment of EUR5.8 million (USD7.03 million).

Informanté newspaper reports the Windhoek High Court granted an order to attach Air Namibia’s moveable properties: “You are hereby directed to attach and take into execution the moveable property and goods of Air Namibia Properties Limited of No. 27-29 Dr. Kuls Street, Windhoek. The attached moveables should be auctioned to raise 5.8 million Euros. The interest accruing from the EUR5.8 million euros will be calculated at the rate of 20% effective January 29, 2021 until the debt is paid up,” the court order read.

Finance Ministry spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu could not confirm the order and referred ch-aviation to the Ministry of Public Enterprises, which did not respond. Namandje also did not respond to ch-aviation's repeated requests for comment.

Challengair in October had filed for Air Namibia to be liquidated, arguing the airline was insolvent and unable to repay about NAD253 million (USD17.3 million) in debt incurred for the lease of a B767-300(ER) in 1998.

The out-of-court settlement was due to avoid the liquidation of the flag carrier. However, it did not have the blessing of the government, which last week announced its decision to place Air Namibia into voluntary liquidation, saying it could not afford to bail out the airline.

Shidhudhu confirmed the government would be filing a court application to have the airline placed into voluntary liquidation, but could not say when this would happen. He declined to comment on the missed payment deadline. “This matter is before the court and it is therefore not appropriate for us to comment at this stage,” he said.

The Namibian reported the government intended to register the airline with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) before February 18 to prevent Challengair's lawyer from seizing the airline’s assets.

The newspaper reported that Air Namibia's two A330-200s leased from Castlelake - V5-ANO (msn 1451) and 5V-ANP (msn 1451) - were being returned to the lessor and repositioned to any of Malta Int'l, Leipzig/Halle, or Nîmes this week. The aircraft used to fly between Windhoek Int'l and Frankfurt Int'l, Air Namibia's biggest loss-making route. They had been part of its fleet since 2013, the ch-aviation fleets history module shows.

According to 2019 discussion papers by the former Air Namibia board, NAD2.4 billion (USD163.9 million) would be payable to lessors if leases were terminated early. In addition to paying the lease rate over the remaining four-year lease term, Air Namibia would have to forfeit a NAD94 million (USD6.4 million) security deposit with the lessor.

At the time of its collapse, Air Namibia's fleet entailed four A319-100s (of which two are owned and two are leased from Deucalion Aviation Funds), the two leased A330-200s, four owned EMB-135ERs, and one B737-500 (stored).

Air Namibia's assets at book value stood at NAD981 million (USD67 million) in August 2020, with liabilities of NAD3 billion (USD204 million).

Assets to be sold, according to the 2019 paper, included: the four EMB135s with a residual value of NAD90 million (USD6.1 million); the two A319s valued at NAD540 million (USD36.8 million); the airline's office building valued at NAD45 million (USD3 million); ground handling equipment worth NAD45 million (USD3 million); an IATA security deposit at NAD102 million (USD6.9 million); and other fixed assets worth NAD30 million (USD2 million). In 2019, staff retrenchment costs would have amounted to NAD161 million (USD11 million). Unflown ticket liability at the time stood at NAD450 million (USD30.7 million).