The new Air Namibia board has effectively split the CEO’s role following the appointment of Xavier Masule as Interim CEO last month.
The long-serving General Manager: Commercial Services was thrust into the airline’s hot seat after the resignation of Advocate Mandi Samson, who had served as Interim CEO for about three-and-a-half years.
Sources within Air Namibia told the Windhoek Observer last week that the national flag carrier risks losing its Air Operators Certificate after revelations that Masule had not been accredited by the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as required by Namibian Civil Aviation Regulations.
An air operator's certificate is the approval granted by NCAA to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes. This requires the operator to have personnel, assets and system in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the general public.
According to the regulations, the airline’s managing director/CEO is the nominated accountable manager responsible for ensuring that all operations and maintenance activities can be financed and carried out to a standard required by the NCAA.
The airline did not respond to specific questions sent to it by the Windhoek Observer, but instead sent out a general press statement signed by Board Chairperson, Deidre Sauls-Deckenbrock.
In the statement, Sauls-Deckenbrock said company secretary Ingrid Cupido would serve as the airline’s Senior Accountable Manager responsible for overall aviation regulatory compliance and activities.
In an apparent break from the previous arrangement, the airline said the Civil Aviation Regulations that require a Senior Accountable Manager be appointed do not require the manager to be the CEO.
“The board has identified Ms Ingrid Cupido, who is a seasoned legal professional in the aviation sector, as the suitable person for accreditation for this purpose by the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“The board has in accordance with due process, engaged with and duly informed the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of its nominee for accreditation. The process is following its ordinary course,” the Air Namibia statement said.
It further said the board recognises that safety, stability and business continuity are non-negotiable, and are among the top drivers of the work currently under way to lay the foundations for Air Namibia’s robust turnaround.
“Therefore, these interim arrangements have been made in order to allow incumbent post holders to focus on fixing the core operations in their respective posts, as well as to enable management Exco members to prioritise their efforts to address and improve performance in critical performance areas.