Air Namibia executive a no show

23 January 2015 Author  

front-chris 23 JanAir Namibia has been accused of paying its absentee General Manager for Flight Operations Captain Chris Schroeder, an allegation that the airline has denied.


Captain Schroeder was headhunted by the Air Namibia board in July last year, but disappeared after working at the airline for a few months.

Schroeder was one of two expatriates recruited by the board to salvage the fortunes of the perennial loss making airline, shortly after the company suspended two senior managers and its Managing Director Theo Namases.

In an interview on Wednesday, Acting Managing Director and Chief Operations Officer of Air Namibia Rene Gsponer confirmed that Schroeder had not returned to work this year.

Gsponer said Schroeder was currently unwell, and had undergone treatment abroad for a terminal illness.

“Captain Schroeder alerted us in November of last year already that he was unwell, and as a result he also announced to the entire aviation industry that he would be stepping down from all his positions,” Gsponer said.

Schroeder’s absence has irked some Air Namibia employees who felt that Schroeder had taken Air Namibia for a ride.

A source at the airline alleged that the flight operations general manager took up another post at a private airline based in Dubai in September last year after only working at the airline for a few months.

“He runs the Air Namibia General Manager Operations Office via emails from Dubai, and collects a double salary,” the source said, an allegation which the acting MD rubbished.

Gsponer explained that Schroeder had shares in an aviation company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We have known all along about his shareholding in another company but it has not in any way affected his work with us. Captain Schroeder fully dedicated himself to help us out,” he said.

Gsponer further explained that Schroeder was on an ad hoc employment contract and did not receive a monthly salary. He said that Schroeder was only paid for the times he worked in the country due to the treatment he had to receive abroad.

The acting MD said they had brought in Schroeder to help coach and transfer over 26-years of skill and experience to local understudy pilots – something he had successfully completed.

 “Captain William Ekandjo is just about ready to take over from Schroeder. We just hope that he can become well enough to come for an official handover, but otherwise his work here is done,” Gsponer said

When contacted for comment about the allegations Schroeder requested the Windhoek Observer to reveal its sources, and stated that providing such information was consistent with international law regarding freedom of speech.

“Since these allegations infringe on my personal life and professional standing, criminal charges shall apply if you do not reveal the source,” he threatened.

“Furthermore, please Google my personality and address me by my correct title which is A/Professor, Dr.h.c (honoris causa), Judge, Captain Christian Schroeder, MSc, MA and MBA.

“I guess this much dignity I deserve after all I have done for Air Namibia. Please feel free to print the above and I look forward to your response and the defamatory article against myself,” Schroeder wrote.

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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