South African Airways: Three investors shortlisted to save themselves from bankruptcy

Having suspended its non-freight and repatriation flights last September, nine months after its request for liquidation following the failure of the restructuring which the unions and the opposition had opposed, before receiving a month later new aid state, the national company based at Johannesburg-OR Tambo airport may see the end of the tunnel.

The Ministry of Public Enterprises (DPE) confirmed that it had “identified three strategic partners” out of the thirty declared applications, without identifying them. But the local press mentions in particular Fairfax Africa Holdings, a subsidiary of a Canadian investment fund, and still Ethiopian Airlines – whose CEO recently explained that discussions with the government are “difficult”, his wish being rather to conclude an agreement management or joint venture, including the supply of aircraft with crew. The DPE is “currently collaborating with all three parties, after which the government will decide who is suitable as a partner,” a spokesperson told ch-aviation.

The administrators of South African Airways have confirmed that they have received three-quarters of the 10.5 billion ZAR (590 million euros today) in state aid promised last October. They now manage voluntary severance packages for 3,246 employees who resigned in August. On the other hand, the sale of the six Airbus A340-600s and five A340-300s is not going as well as expected (unlike the accessories auction three months ago).

Placed under administration since December 2019 (and already given for dead and then resuscitated, more particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic), the Star Alliance company has been in the red since 2011 and on a drip for years, subject to political interventions without end. According to the rescue plan unveiled last summer, the “new South African Airways” would see its workforce halved to around 2,500 employees, and its fleet limited to “about twenty aircraft” for the years to come. This “new airline, restructured, competitive, created from the old one” would be according to the government “the best option to get back into the air immediately” – and avoid liquidation.

SAA is expected to restart operations in the first half of 2021, the government hoped in November.

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