South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday said his government did not agree with South African Airways (SAA) business practitioners plan to halt services to some domestic and international destinations by the end of this month, reported Reuters.
State-owned South African Airways entered a form of bankruptcy protection in December as it failed to make any profit since 2011. The airline has received more than 20 billion rand ($1.3 billion) in bailouts over the last three years.
On Thursday, the business practitioners appointed to rescue SAA announced that SAA would cease flights to Durban, East London, and Port Elizabeth as well as to Abidjan via Accra (Ghana), Entebbe (Uganda), Guangzhou (China), Hong Kong, Luanda (Angola), Munich (Germany), Ndola (Zambia), and Sao Paulo (Brazil) starting from February 29. The announcement was made as part of efforts to conserve cash and make the airline more attractive to potential equity partners.
President Ramaphosa said his government did not agree with this decision.
“We are not in agreement with what the rescue practitioners have come up with, that domestic flights should be canceled,” Ramaphosa said in comments broadcast on state television channel SABC.
The South African president said the government will have a discussion with the business rescue team on the matter as SAA is not only a great symbol for the country, but it is also an economic enabler. He said the state-owned airline is very important for the country.
“That is why we took the decision not to close SAA, but to ensure that SAA is revamped, resuscitated and it starts to operate profitably,” Ramaphosa said.
The public enterprises ministry, which oversees SAA, said the route changes need to be reviewed.
“Government will be making representations to the Business Rescue Practitioners in order to balance the necessity for trimming unprofitable routes with the need to ensure the future sustainability of both the airline and South Africa’s aviation industry,” the ministry said in a statement.