Cape Town – Four days after South African Airways said it sub-leased aircraft to its low-cost subsidiary Mango Airlines at a discounted cost, inadvertently raising concerns of collusion, the embattled airline did an about-turn and denied that it had done so.
The change in tune came hours after outgoing Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout told Bloomberg that SAA’s original statement was “outright, straightforward, not true”.
Hours later, SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali made a startling statement, conceding that SAA was wrong to say the planes had been discounted, saying “these aircraft were … not leased at a discount”.
SAA said on Saturday that as "an initial investment to subsidise the start-up of Mango Airlines, SAA subleased 10 aircraft, at a significantly discounted cost to Mango Airlines, while continuing to pay the market related premium to the lessor".
It was reacting to the resignation of Bezuidenhout, who was appointed as new CEO of Africa-focused, low-cost airline fastjet from August 1 2016. Bezuidenhout has been CEO since Mango commenced operations ten years ago. He has also twice acted as SAA CEO.