'Pay back the money.' SA Express demands settlement after SAA secures billions

SA Express Logo (Supplied)
SA Express Logo (Supplied)

After the announcement that state-owned airline SAA is set to receive R3.5bn in funding from the Development Bank of Southern Africa on Wednesday, SA Express wants SAA to pay back what it says it is owed. 

According to SA Express, SAA acts as its booking agent, but has not been transferring money from bookings to SA Express. 

"Over the last two months SA Express has been battling to retrieve monies owed by SAA. The national carrier failed to pay revenues owed to SA Express as a consequence of SAA’s Business Rescue status," said SA Express in a statement.

"Now that SAA has received funds, the regional airline trusts that finally paying these revenues will be prioritised."

A spokesperson for SAA business rescue practitioners Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana said on Wednesday that the practitioners were not commenting on the issue at the moment.

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the business rescue practitioners said customers could continue flying SAA now that required funding has been secured. "Stakeholders of the airline should now have comfort that the rescue process is on a significantly sounder footing, and that passengers and travel agencies and airline partners may continue to book air travel on SAA with confidence," they said.

SA Express, which is also a state-owned airline but operationally independent of SAA, said that its board and management have been working with the SAA business rescue practitioners to "resolve this matter over the last two months with no imminent way forward". The airline did not say how much it is owed by SAA. 

"As of 7 December 2019, SAA has been in unlawful possession of the collected revenue and has no right to retain the revenue collected. Although the airline has been through many challenges, including a brief halt in operations in early 2018 as well as making efforts to recover after the detrimental aftereffects of corruption, SA Express hopes to close this matter and move forward to focus on strengthening and growing its business."

SA Express meanwhile, is also facing its own business rescue application. The High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday reserved judgment in an application brought by a private logistics company to have the regional airline placed in business rescue over unpaid debt.


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