Govt says it has received proposals for new national airline

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A view of SAA airplanes at Cape Town International Airport on February 18, 2020.
A view of SAA airplanes at Cape Town International Airport on February 18, 2020.
Gallo Images/Jacques Stander

The government says it has received "unsolicited proposals from private sector funders, private equity investors and potential airline partners" for a new national airline to emerge from the SAA business rescue process.

It is intent on pursuing "credible proposals" for private sector investment and strategic partnerships in South African Airways, as well as equity participation for employees.

"Government has expressed its intent and commitment to fundamentally restructure and transform SAA into a viable, sustainable and competitive national carrier. The broader aviation industry and the passenger air transport sector specifically, is essential for servicing and growing economic sectors, including tourism, business connectivity and cargo carriage," the Department of Public Enterprises said in a statement on Tuesday. 

"Government is committed to support the formation of such a new airline with no legacy financial and operational issues which will be managed by competent, competitive and skilled personnel who have strategic and technical capabilities which are critical to the success of the new carrier."

SAA was placed into business rescue in December 2019. Its creditors are set to vote on the proposed rescue plan on Thursday.

Private regional airline Airlink is, however, set to bring an urgent court application on Wednesday to prevent a vote on the plan, which will provide concurrent creditors with only 7.5 cents in the rand.

The DPE says it realises that airlines across the world have been facing severe drops in flights due to Covid-19, leading to financial and other pressures.

Government's view of a new airline is one having an efficient and modern aircraft fleet; offering "the right routes" at competitive prices; and a motivated, productive and skilled workforce. The new airline must be "customer centric, lean, technology savvy, digitally native and agile to service all market segments" and have an empowered board of directors with appropriate aviation experience.

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