SAA business rescue practitioners defend route cancellation

South African Airways Business Rescue Practitioners Siciwe Dongwana and Les Matuson released a statement on Sunday morning defending their decision to cancel domestic routes save for the Johannesburg-Cape Town route as being in the best interest of the imperiled carrier.

SAA's Business Rescue Practitioners announced this past week that it would cancel a raft of domestic air travel routes, eliciting a strong rejection from organised labour. On Friday afternoon President Cyril Ramaphosa said he also disagreed with the decision.

With SA Express also ordered by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to undergo business rescue processes, the prospects for the national carrier appear grim as ever.

The business rescue practitioners said in a joint statement released on Sunday that the decision to cancel routes was taken "in the best interests of SAA".

"They are intended to make the airline commercially and operationally sustainable, free from the requirement of future funding from the government post the implementation of the restructure," the statement said.

The statement said the actions are aimed at improving SAA's balance sheet which is intended to create a platform for a strong and sustainable airline and so ensure that the company is more attractive for potential strategic equity partners.

"We recognize the concerns raised, especially around the domestic routes. We will continue to engage with stakeholders, with a commitment to include inputs into the final business rescue plan, which is due to be published by the end of this month," the statement said.

On Sunday morning, Sunday Times reported that African National Congress chair and Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe told the governing party's National Executive Committee meeting in Pretoria that SAA ought to be sold, as it was a drain of finances.

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