Government supports ‘new SAA’ and push to promote black pilots

Cabinet has expressed support for the establishment of a new national airline and has backed the concerted efforts to mobilise funding from various sources that will see the proposed carrier take off.

In a statement on Friday (26 June), cabinet said that the mobilising of funding will include potential equity partners.

“This is the only realistic pathway from which a new viable, sustainable, competitive airline that can provide an integrated domestic, regional and international services,” it said.

“Cabinet maintains that a positive vote from creditors to finalise the business rescue process is still the most viable and expeditious option, for the national carrier to restructure its affairs which include its business, its debt and other liabilities.

“Cabinet believes a restructured airline will pursue the transformational agenda such as the lack of opportunities for the advancement of black pilots after 26 years into our democracy. ”

On Tuesday (23 June), the Department of Public Enterprises said it received an expression of interest in a new and restructured South African Airways (SAA).

The department said that the airline, which is currently in business rescue proceedings, has received unsolicited proposals from private sector funders, private equity investors, and potential airline partners for a new national airline that must emerge from the business rescue process,

“Government is intent in pursuing credible proposals for investment and strategic partnerships with the private sector, as well as equity participation for employees.

“Such partners will also introduce technical, financial and operational expertise,” it said.

The department added that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic there are possibilities for ‘airline partnerships’ to improve scale and scope and ensure the long-term sustainability of the local aviation industry.

In a separate interview on Wednesday, a senior official said that government was prepared to give up a majority stake in the airline.

“We are not obsessed with control,” Kgathatso Tlhakudi, deputy director-general at department of public enterprises, said in an interview on 702.

“If we find the right partner who is prepared to inject the technology and access to markets that we require for the airline, and they are assuming management control, we are quite comfortable to let go of that.”

With a smaller shareholding the government will protect certain strategic imperatives, while helping to improve management and governance measures required to ensure SAA’s future success, he said.

Read: A working national airline must emerge from SAA: government

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Government supports ‘new SAA’ and push to promote black pilots