Air Namibia suffers IATA suspension

By Hilary Mare

TROUBLED national carrier, Air Namibia has suffered another setback, this time being suspended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for failure to pay outstanding amounts in relation to the Association’s Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) and IATA Clearing House (ICH).

The ICH is used by the association for fast debt collection and protection against bad debt and bankruptcy while the BSP is used for settlement of passenger sales from travel agents to airlines.

This week, Juan Antonio Rodriguez, IATA’s director of Financial Distribution Services Operations highlighted that in accordance with the Passenger Agency Conference Resolution the airline has been suspended from all IATA Settlement Systems (ISS).

On the ISS, Air Namibia operates in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, China, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Macao SAR, China, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

ISS are the backbone of the global air transport industry. They enable the swift, reliable, and efficient movement of funds between airlines and their travel partners. In 2017, the ISS settled US$433.3 billion.

In essence, the suspension generally means that travel agents from across the world will not be able to book Air Namibia tickets through the IATA clearing system until the suspension is lifted.

Speaking to Confidente this week, interim Chief Executive Officer of Air Namibia, Theo Mberirua said that although the airline will move quickly to try and have the suspension lifted, they have opted to continue operations using their own online platform.

This week, Air Namibia resumed flights to Johannesburg.

“Our domestic flights are not affected because these are for people who book directly on our system. With the regional flights, these have two legs. From outbound flights we are not affected but from those that book on our flights from outside Namibia, those may be affected a bit as they cannot access the IATA system for our flights.

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We have shared links with them to be able to alternatively book using our platform,” said Mberirua further explaining that this issue has nothing to do with their license and will continue to fly.

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“You don’t need to be a member of IATA to be able to fly. A perfect example is that of Westair which has never been a member of IATA but continues to fly domestically and in the region. No airline however wishes to be suspended from IATA and so we will try to have the suspension lifted,” stressed Mberirua.

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