SAA salaries paid up for March, say business rescue practitioners

Salaries for March at embattled state-owned airline South African Airways were paid in full on Thursday, according to joint business rescue practitioner Siviwe Dongwana.

This follows reports that salary payments were hanging in the balance at state-owned airline SA Express, which is in involuntary business rescue. 

Dongwana added that the business rescue practitioners for SAA have managed to pay salaries in full since the start of the business rescue process in December.

However, SAA is in the process of a section 189 consultation, which is set to affect over 4 000 jobs. 

SAA recently announced, in line with most other airlines, that it is suspending flights during the 21-day lockdown period in SA.

The business rescue practitioners have since received another extension to publish their long-awaited business rescue plan. On Thursday the BRPs confirmed that a further extension for publication of the plan from March 31 to May 29 had been approved by the requisite majority of creditors holding voting interests in the company.

"The economy has been paused for everyone, so SAA is in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to operating. Many airlines have ceased flying all passenger flights in response to the lockdowns and travel bans, which is the responsible thing to do given these unprecedented times," said Dongwana.

"Notwithstanding the lockdown, there is increased demand in the cargo business and we are working hard to take advantage of those opportunities. Likewise, we are ready to take advantage of any emergency charter opportunities that may present themselves."

Earlier in Thursday SAA announced that acting CEO Zuks Ramasia will enter into early retirement from April. She has spent 27 years at the airline, and was appointed acting CEO in June last year, after Vuyani Jarana resigned The board said it would announce an "interim successor" in due course.

In a letter to its customers Ramasia said on Thursday that the airline is aiming to recommence domestic services between Johannesburg and Cape Town on 17 April 2020.

All customers holding an unused tickets will be able to use its full value as a credit for travel on any SAA service over the next two years up to and including 24 March 2022. SAA will also permit a free name change if you no longer wish to travel.

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