Airlines announce cargo embargo from Hosea Kutako airport

Qatar Airways and Lufthansa Airlines have announced the termination of cargo operations from Hosea Kutako International Airport from yesterday.

The two air carriers’ announcements follow on a Supreme Court judgement at the end of last week which upheld a High Court order that ground handling services company Menzies Aviation (Namibia) should cease operations at the airport.

Qatar Airways cargo sales and service executive Rajiv Sarjoo made the announcement in an email sent to cargo clients.

He said the company has implemented a full embargo on cargo to and from Windhoek until further notice.

“All shipments booked will be cancelled,” he said.

Lufthansa cargo key account manager Loretta Hall made a similar announcement. “Operations on 4Y [Eurowings Discover] flights will be terminated from 13 June until further notice. The last cargo flight will depart on 12 June,” she stated

The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) notified Menzies Aviation (Namibia) after the delivery of the Supreme Court’s judgement on Friday that the company had to hand over its operations at the airport to the Namibian company Paragon Investment Holdings at the end of Monday.

However, Menzies Aviation filed an urgent application in the court on Monday in an attempt to stave off eviction from the airport.

The company was given a couple of days’ breathing space in an order that judge Shafimana Ueitele gave after 22h00 on Monday. Ueitele directed that a High Court order dating from June last year, in which it was ordered that Menzies Aviation should be evicted from premises it has been using at the airport, should not be carried out until he has delivered his judgement on the company’s urgent application, which he postponed to tomorrow morning.

Menzies Aviation is still challenging the NAC’s decision in December 2021 to award the airport ground handling services contract to Paragon, in a joint venture with Ethiopian Airlines, in a case that is pending in the Windhoek High Court.


The news of the embargo has caught the freight forwarding industry off guard, resulting in them spending most of Monday contacting their clients and rerouting cargo via South Africa.

This situation is further exacerbated by the fact that once a new ground handler is appointed the airline must implement measures such as audits and staff training, which may take up to two months to complete.

Transworld Cargo business development manager Fritz Kaufmann said the announcement will greatly impact his company’s operations.

“We have been exporting fish with support from the airlines, and now all the fish will have to be routed via road to South Africa before being exported to the world market. Although Ethiopian Airlines may have some capacity, approximately 90% of the fish will move via South Africa,” he said.

Kaufmann said the company may have to temporarily lay off casual employees at the airport.

ST Freight managing director Stanley Thomas described the move by the airlines as a setback for exporters.

“Why are Qatar and Lufthansa placing an embargo on cargo? Do they not trust Paragon?” he said.

Paragon Investment Holdings executive director Desmond Amunyela and his management team have reportedly been engaged in meetings with different airlines, including South African Airways, Qatar Airways and Lufthansa, who have been auditing Paragon’s operations at the airport since Sunday.

In an affidavit filed at the High Court on Monday, Menzies Aviation (Namibia) manager Emile Smith is claiming NAC gave the company an unreasonably short period of four days to comply with the notice that Paragon was to take over ground handling services at Hosea Kutako International Airport yesterday.

Smith claims Paragon does not have the required capacity to provide ground handling services at the airport, and that Namibia’s aviation industry “stands at the brink of disaster as a result of the NAC’s irresponsible and irrational conduct”.

He also alleges in his affidavit that NAC’s decision that Paragon should take over ground handling services at the airport “will have a devastating effect on the Namibian fishing industry”, and says Menzies Aviation is the only ground handling operator in Namibia with RA3 certification, which is an aviation security validation that the European Union grants to qualifying cargo handlers.

Without Menzies Aviation’s RA3 certification being available to Namibian exporters, many of the country’s fish exporters would be compelled to export their fish through South Africa, at great additional costs, Smith says.

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