SAA adds three planes to its fleet

 ·14 May 2024

South Africa’s embattled national airline SAA has taken delivery of three aircraft from China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC).

The 2016-vintage A320CEO aircraft were part of Vietnamese airline Pacific Airlines’ fleet before being redelivered to SAA, the group said.

“By initiating a partnership with South Africa’s flag carrier as a new client, the delivery showcases CALC’s dedication to broadening its presence across the African continent and illustrates a globalised business, especially within the southern hemisphere,” it said.

John Lamola, SAA’s interim chief executive officer, said the delivery was an achievement, given the “current global aircraft supply chain constraints”. He said the aircraft would be used to execute SAA’s fleet plan that is “aimed at a profitable business model”.

SAA’s business prospects recently took a knock after a deal to privatise the airline fell through.

Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan called off the recent attempt to sell a 51% stake in SAA to Takatso Consortium, a private equity partner.

Instead, the government is now looking for a smaller private injection, seeking potential investors to buy a minority stake of up to 20% in the airline, while the government would retain the remaining 80%.

Back in 2019, SAA, which had around R28 billion in liabilities and was seen as a black hole for taxpayer-funded bailouts, was placed under business rescue (which it exited in 2021).

Gordhan said that placing the SOE under business rescue was to restore confidence in the airline, safeguard its good assets, and help to restructure and reposition the entity into one that is stronger, more sustainable and able to grow and attract an equity partner.

Lamola previously said that SAA’s main short-term goal is to stabalise its finances to reduce its reliance on taxpayer-funded bailouts.

According to a recent answer by Gordhan in Parliament, taxpayers have sunk R33.136 billion into SAA since 2019.

This long-standing history of taxpayer-funded injections into SAA is something that the government and the airline’s leadership want to move away from.

Read: Now hiring: Permanent CEO for SAA

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