As it struggles against growing competition from domestic carriers as well as international airlines flying into Windhoek Int'l, Air Namibia is also embroiled in a series of legal cases, The Patriot has reported.

These include a long-running attempt by the estate of defunct Belgian carrier Challengair, which has relentlessly pursued Air Namibia for a court-awarded claim of EUR25 million euro (USD29 million); debts incurred in the March to May period over four E135s leased from Namibia's Westair Aviation; a NAD500 million dollar (USD35.2 million) ground handling debt with Namibia Airports Company; and Rolls-Royce reportedly threatening to repossess its aircraft engines within days unless NAD83 million dollars (USD5.84 million) outstanding payment is made.

To add to its woes, in July, Westair has successfully challenged what it has called a predatory pricing model used by the flag carrier to keep competitors out of the market, filing an affidavit to challenge the pricing model. Air Namibia relented and readjusted its prices, a source involved in the country's aviation sector told The Patriot. Westair has since warned Air Namibia that it would file further sworn statements against it if it cuts its fares again.

“Westair filed an affidavit in the High Court and served Air Namibia with papers through a legal firm. And all of a sudden, within a week, Air Namibia changed the rules of its business, which is the predatory pricing component, which they had refused to do for the last 20 years,” the source said.

Airlink (South Africa) has reportedly been considering making its own legal claim against Air Namibia of between NAD100 million and NAD150 million dollars (USD7 to 10.5 million) over the alleged predatory pricing tactics. Last year, the Namibian Competition Commission (NCC) tentatively ruled that the national carrier had been undercutting competitors on its trunk Windhoek-Cape Town route, The Namibian reported at the time.

Twaku Kayofa, corporate communications officer at Air Namibia, has since commented to ch-aviation that "Air Namibia takes compliance with its regulatory obligations seriously. [...] What is true is that Westair has merely made allegations of predatory pricing in a letter addressed to Air Namibia. What is also true is that Air Namibia, with the assistance of experts specialising in competition law, has interrogated Westair's allegations and found them to be baseless.

"Westair can confirm that it has not filed any affidavits concerning Air Namibia with the High Court, nor has it threatened the filing of any affidavits. When it comes to pricing and the false suggestions that Air Namibia has been compelled to change its 'rules of business' by Westair or any other party for that matter, consumers can take comfort in the fact that Air Namibia has not changed anything. Its pricing decisions continue to be within the bounds of what is lawful and importantly simply remain responsive to the prevailing competitive dynamics in the market, in its ongoing attempt to serve its customers.

"Insofar as SA Airlink is concerned, Air Namibia remains of the view that its position will ultimately be vindicated. This was the case before the South African competition authorities. It is therefore both inappropriate and premature to even speculate about a potential civil damages claim."

Editorial Comment: Added response of Twaku Kayofa, corporate communications officer at Air Namibia. - 06.08.2019 - 16:09 UTC