Efforts continue to keep S African Air flying

The South African government has announced it is looking for a strategic equity partner to help create a sustainable, competitive and efficient national carrier.

This follows plans announced by the government in December to introduce a radical restructuring process for South African Airways (SAA). The money-losing airline at that time entered into the South African version of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As part of the rescue, South African public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said South Africa’s treasury would provide SAA with two 2 billion rand (about $136.5 million). In addition, existing SAA lenders would provide 2 billion rand.

Although the government missed the deadline to provide the ailing airline with the promised 2 billion rand in funds needed for SAA’s business rescue plan, the Development Bank of Southern Africa threw the cash-strapped airline a 3.5 billion-rand lifeline on Jan. 29.

The airline issued a statement saying that stakeholders could now have comfort in the knowledge that the rescue process is on a “significant sounder footing.” The airline added that passengers and travel agencies could now continue to book air travel on SAA with confidence.
While awaiting the funds, SAA was forced to consolidate selected local flights as well as the international flight between Johannesburg and Munich.

The airline said in a statement: “These decisions are in line with SAA’s usual policy of reviewing flights and consolidating services with low demand. Furthermore, during the current process of business rescue, these cancellations represent a responsible strategy to conserve cash and optimize the airline’s position ahead of any further capital investment.”

SAA recently operated its first international flight from O.R Tambo Airport in Joburg to New York’s JFK using its new Airbus A350-900.

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