SA Express liquidation hearing postponed once again

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The airline's provisional liquidators are still trying to see if a suitable buyer can be found for the airline.
The airline's provisional liquidators are still trying to see if a suitable buyer can be found for the airline.
Gallo Images/Grant Duncan-Smith
  • State-owned regional airline SA Express has been in provisional liquidation for almost two years.
  • A return date for a liquidation application has been extended until July this year.
  • SA Express was placed in provisional liquidation in April 2020, after its business rescue process failed.


The return date for a liquidation application for state-owned regional airline SA Express (SAX) was once again extended, this time to 4 July this year.

The airline's provisional liquidators are still trying to see if a suitable buyer can be found for the airline.

At the end of July 2021 the return date was extended to 11 January this year. The reason given at that time was because two unions were bringing an application in the Constitutional Court to try to save the airline. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association wanted the Constitutional Court to compel the National Assembly to debate whether SAX should be permitted to go insolvent. 

The two unions contended that, in the absence of Parliamentary oversight, a state-owned company cannot be finally liquidated by a court. The Constitutional Court, however, ruled in October last year that it cannot hear the unions' application because the matter is not within its jurisdiction and mandate to hear directly. 

SA Express was placed in provisional liquidation in April 2020, after its business rescue process failed. In the second half of 2020 Fly SAX, consisting of a group of former SAX employees, was announced as the preferred bidder to buy the airline. At that stage it relied on funding to be obtained via a crowdsourcing platform.

However, in May 2020, Fly SAX submitted a revised offer to the provisional liquidators, after the latter found that Fly SAX had breached the terms and conditions of the sale process as "no funds were forthcoming".

In January 2021, a court ruling postponed the date to determine if SAX must be placed in liquidation to 29 April 2021, which was then pushed out again to 28 July 2021. The aim was to provide more time to try to save the airline.

Government gave SAX more than R1.2 billion in urgent financial support for the 2019/2020 financial year.

State-owned flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) came out of business rescue in April 2021 after a period of about 16 months. Due diligence of SAA's chosen strategic equity partner, the Takatso consortium, is still under way. It is anticipated that the consortium, consisting of Global Aviation, which operates low-cost airline LIFT, and African infrastructure investment company Harith, will have to invest about R3 billion in SAA over a three-year period.

SAA's low-cost subsidiary Mango is currently in business rescue, looking for a buyer. A call for expressions of interest has gone out from the rescue practitioners towards the end of 2021.


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