Menzies asks court again to allow airport return

The warehouse of the airport services company Menzies Aviation (Namibia) at the Hosea Kutako International Airport Photo: Shelleygan Petersen.

Airport services company Menzies Aviation (Namibia) will have to wait for three weeks to hear if it has had success with its latest attempt to return to the parts of Hosea Kutako International Airport from which the Namibia Airports Company evicted it in August.

A judgement on Menzies’ latest court application against the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) and airport services competitor Paragon Investment Holdings will be given on 3 October, judge Shafimana Ueitele said after hearing oral arguments in the matter in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

In its urgent application before Ueitele, Menzies is asking the court to allow it to return to Hosea Kutako International Airport until the NAC gives it “due notice” to vacate premises at the airport that it has been renting from the NAC.

The NAC evicted Menzies from the airport on 19 August, based on an order authorising the eviction that was granted by a High Court judge near the end of June last year and upheld by the Supreme Court in June this year.

Menzies provided ground handling services at the airport since the start of 2014.

The NAC awarded a new contract for the provision of ground handling services at the airport to Paragon, in a joint venture partnership with Ethiopian Airways, in December 2021.

Menzies is challenging that decision and alleging that there was corruption in the tender bid of the Paragon and Ethiopian Airways joint venture in another case that is pending in the High Court. That case is scheduled to be heard at the start of December.

Menzies filed the urgent application before Ueitele on 1 September, after judge Hannelie Prinsloo dismissed another urgent application, in which Menzies was trying to get a court order allowing it to again take possession of parts of the airport from which the NAC evicted it.

During the hearing yesterday, senior counsel Raymond Heathcote, representing Menzies, argued that Menzies was not evicted from the airport, but instead was locked out under cover of darkness during the early morning hours of 19 August.

Heathcote said Menzies wants the court to put it in the position it was after a judgement delivered by Ueitele on 8 August, when the judge set aside a four-day notice that the NAC had earlier given Menzies to vacate the airport in June.

After Ueitele’s judgement was delivered, the NAC gave Menzies 30 days’ notice to stop providing ground handling services at the airport and to vacate the airport – a period that would be reasonable, Ueitele had said in his judgement.

A lawyer representing Menzies responded to that notice by stating in a letter to a lawyer representing the NAC that Menzies should be given 12 months’ notice – and not 30 days as mentioned by Ueitele – to vacate the premises it was using at the airport.

In his address to the court yesterday, Heathcote said Menzies is not now asking Ueitele to have Paragon evicted from the airport. Paragon can remain at the airport and continue to provide ground handling services there, and Menzies would be able to resume cargo handling, which has been disrupted since the NAC barred it from the airport, if the company is permitted to return to the airport, he said.

On behalf of the NAC, senior counsel Timothy Bruinders argued there is not a single court judgement or order entitling Menzies to return to the airport.

Bruinders argued that what Menzies actually wants is a variation of the initial order authorising its eviction from the airport. That eviction order has not been varied, and could be implemented immediately after the Supreme Court dismissed Menzies’ appeal against the High Court judgement that was delivered near the end of June last year, Bruinders said.

The most important fact is that there is a judgement for Menzies’ ejectment from the airport, and that this judgement has not been suspended or set aside, he argued as well.

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