The end of an era

16 February 2021 | Opinion

Desiree Gases

When the news that Air Namibia was going in liquidation was plastered all over the front pages of newspapers and social media platforms, I was devastated. The first thing that I saw were memes being circulated, joshing about this whole ordeal, and in the back of my head, I didn’t think it was funny, none of it was. Namibians don’t realise the negative impact this will have not only on the employees of Air Namibia but Namibia has a whole.

For those that do not know, liquidation is the conversion of asserts into cash in order to clear a debt, especially when business liabilities exceed total assets. So why did this prestigious, well-known airline go into voluntary liquidation? Simply, the government can no longer render financial aid to Air Namibia due to the country’s economy, therefore it has been on death row and Air Namibia’s execution day has arrived.

It just goes to show that our economy is on life-support. We all know that tourism brings immense revenue into the country, textbook basics, one-on-one. What now happens when the country’s international airline no longer gets off the runway? Even more economic devastation. Air Namibia provided meaningful economic contribution to the Republic of Namibia.

Let me go in depth for clarity when I say ‘even more economic devastation...’ You see, Air Namibia employed 600 staff, who all lost their jobs. That’s 600 people who have families to support.

The government will have to spend approximately N$300 million to pay the salaries of the employees of Air Namibia as they stay home and the airline goes into liquidation. The same government which can no longer support the airline.

There is going to be lost human capital, according to Tejvan Pettinger who studied PPE at LMH, Oxford University. “If people are out of work, they miss out on on-the-job training. This is a vital component of human capital and labour skills; high rates of unemployment can reduce labour productivity...”

So, what does that tell us? A reduction of labour productivity means unemployment affects the country’s economy as it leads to lower output and incomes.

Air Namibia has been the spirit of Namibia for 75 years. It provided safe and comfortable flying to its passengers, it took some of us over the borders and welcomed us back with open arms. It’s just not an airline, it is home, it carried the spirit of Namibia in the highest skies, representing us all so mighty, it changed lives, it’s a piece of us that is no more.