Menzies locked out of Namibia airport but continues legal battle
30 / 08 / 2023
Menzies Aviation has stated it is “entitled by law” to continue operating at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) as its dispute with airport operator Namibia Airports Company (NAC) continues and a backlog of air cargo shipments builds up.
Ground handler Menzies has been operating at HKIA since 2014. However, a long-running legal dispute with NAC over a procurement process carried out, saw Paragon Investment Holdings’ Paragon Aviation Services, in a joint venture (JV) with Ethiopian Airlines, appointed as ground handler at the airport in its place.
Menzies Aviation Group chief executive Philipp Joeinig said: “Menzies is currently operating under a new agreement at Hosea Kutako International Airport “HKIA” in Namibia, which it entered into with the Namibian Airports Company Limited “NAC” on 30 June 2022.
“As a long-standing aviation services provider at H.K.I.A airport, where we have been operational since June 2014, we are not only entitled by law, but also obliged to continue to provide ground handling services in accordance with the highest international standards. ”
According to NAC, the Paragon JV began ground handling operations at HKIA, near Windhoek, on August 19.
But Joeinig stated: “On 19 August 2023, we were denied possession to HKIA and launched an urgent application on that day in the High Court of Namibia to regain possession and to enable our team to return to their duties and serve our airline customers. The judgement is expected on 1 September 2023.
“In the meantime, we continue to be denied possession, which has impacted our airline customers as flights have been disrupted, cargo cannot be distributed and lost baggage cannot be reunited with passengers.”
“While awaiting the judgment, Paragon continues to render the ground handling services at HKIA and will remain in unlawful possession and Menzies will not be allowed access to the airport. This is unfortunately out of Menzies’ hands,” stated the ground handler.
Menzies said it has been denied permission by NAC to collect cargo from its warehouse to deliver to customers. Menzies has informed its clients that it should request NAC to allow Menzies to distribute the cargo, because Menzies cannot do so while being dispossessed of the HKIA. Menzies said it cannot hand over cargo to Paragon or NAC.
Joeinig said Menzies would continue to engage with the Namibia legal system to resolve the issue.
Johannesburg, South Africa-headquartered airline Airlink said on August 23 that as a result of the disruption it had been “obliged” to suspend its cargo operations at the airport. The airline said on August 29 that it had “resumed full operations” at HKIA, following “constructive discussions” with Paragon Aviation Services. It added that it would prioritise clearing the cargo backlog.