Ground handling service provider Menzies was evicted from Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) on August 19 and replaced by Paragon, leading to several flight disruptions.
Flight disruptions at WDH
Airlink was one of the carriers that faced significant disruptions to its operations in Windhoek over the weekend. The airline apologized to its customers and sent a team from Johannesburg to assist with handling its flights to and from Windhoek. Airlink said in a statement;
“We are alive to the situation at the airport where all operations are being affected. They follow the eviction of ground handling company Menzies and its overnight replacement by Paragon, a new service provider. While the delays are beyond Airlink’s control, to avoid bottlenecks and minimize delays, this morning, we deployed a team of personnel from Johannesburg to Windhoek to assist with the handling of our flights to and from the Namibian capital.”
The South African carrier operates up to four daily Embraer E190 flights between Johannesburg OR Tambo (JNB) and Windhoek. This is supported by three daily E190 flights from Cape Town International (CPT) to WDH.
Germany’s Eurowings Discover, which operates Airbus A330 flights from Frankfurt Airport (FRA), also faced significant disruptions following the eviction of Menzies. Its flight 4Y132, meant to land at WDH at 08:05 on August 18, was diverted to JNB, while other flights were canceled.
Similarly, Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH) on August 19 had to be diverted to JNB. Flight QR1373 departed DOH at 02:38 and was scheduled to arrive at WDH at 09:55.
Menzies ceases operations at WDH
Menzies stopped providing services at WDH on August 18 and was evicted the following day after a long-standing legal battle with the Namibia Airports Company (NAC).
According to NAC’s statement, Menzies signed a five-year contract with the airports company in 2014 to provide ground-handling services at WDH. The agreement lapsed on December 31, 2021, and was subject to the right of renewal for a three-year period. Prior to the termination date, new bids were invited, and both parties agreed to a six-month extension until June 30, 2022.
Paragon’s application was successful during the bidding process, while Menzies’ was denied on the grounds of non-compliance with certain lender conditions. As such, Menzies was meant to vacate NAC premises by the date agreed in the extension. On May 27, 2022, the Namibian company filed an application in the High Court seeking an order to evacuate the ground handler.
The High Court ruled in favor of NAC and ordered Menzies to cease operations at WDH on June 30, 2022. Menzies appealed the ruling, but the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal with costs on June 9, 2023. Following a series of court battles between Menzies, NAC, and Paragon, the court stood by its decision, and Menzies was given a notice to vacate NAC premises by September 10.
Paragon takes over ground handling at WDH
Although it caused disruptions for airlines, the eviction of Menzies allowed Paragon to commence ground handling services at the Windhoek Airport. The Namibia Airports Company has urged stakeholders to cooperate with Paragon as the legitimate ground handler at the airport.
The new ground handler took over on August 19, and according to Observer Namibia, operations have been running smoothly. NAC will continue working with Paragon and relevant stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition.