SAA gives millions in sports sponsorships

Cape Town - South African Airways (SAA) has spent about R269m on sponsorships for a variety of South African sports federations since 2010.

The bulk of the sponsorships comprises free air tickets.

Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba supplied the information in answer to a parliamentary question.

Gigaba said the sponsorships include air tickets to the value of R91.1m given to the Springboks, the u/20 Springboks and the Sevens Springbok teams.

This sponsorship led to the SAA becoming the official carrier of the national rugby teams.

Gigaba said the sponsorship, which runs to 2015, will provide "unique marketing opportunities" to the airline.

SAA also provided sponsorships for soccer and tennis.

According to Gigaba's parliamentary answer, the SAA's sponsorship of the ATP tennis tour amounts to R160m for the period 2009 to 2012. This was apparently paid in cash.

SAA also gave the South African Football Federation R13.3m in cash and free tickets to the value of R5.4m in 2010.

ON Tuesday SAA and Sascoc, the national Olympic committee, announced a new partnership making SAA the official carrier for all South African teams participating in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The value of this sponsorship is R4.7m.

The FF+, which posed the questions to the minister, said SAA keeps asking the government for more money, yet has funds for large sponsorships.

"Only last month the airline also had to pay out R18.8m as a fine for price-fixing. Sponsorships can only be considered if a company can meet all its financial obligations," said FF+ spokesperson Pieter Groenewald.

The state-owned airline recently announced in parliament that it might approach its shareholders for a recapitalisation of R6bn to prop up its weak balance sheet.

These funds have not yet been requested.
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