SAA officially relaunched

Friday, October 27, 2023

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says despite all the challenges it has faced, South African Airways (SAA) has a “tremendously bright future" if its current expansion is properly managed.

The Minister officially relaunched SAA on Thursday at an event that also marked the restart of the State-owned airliner’s direct flights to São Paulo, Brazil.

“Notwithstanding State capture, notwithstanding the COVID pandemic, SAA is where it is today. What we can see ahead of ourselves, as part of the recovery of SAA, is a tremendously bright future, if we manage the current expansion properly but also conclude the deal with the equity partner, which should be concluded either late this year or early next year.

“That will add a lot more money... to SAA to expand and will multiply its capacity to fly South Africans out of South Africa and also bring tourists into South Africa from all parts of the world as it once did, but now in a financially sustainable way,” Gordhan said.

The State-owned airline has endured challenges for several years.

SAA was racked by allegations of fraud and corruption during the State capture years and was also put under business rescue and grounded.

The Minister explained the turnaround for the airline.

“What we have been able to do is to firstly establish that there’s no more money that’s going to come from taxes that’s going to go into SAA, like the R40 billion that went in over a 10-year period. SAA must survive on its own strength... [and] on the capital that is actually provided by the strategic equity partner and it must grow organically. Through the business rescue process, its balance sheet is not encumbered in any kind of way.

“It took three and a half years of very hard work…to ensure that we steer this process. It’s a signal to investors and the investing community in South Africa that reforms are possible in South Africa. That we can execute, just with South African talent, these very complex deals and complex reform processes in State owned entities,” he said.  

Gordhan hailed SAA’s new offering to fly to Brazil as just the start for the airline.

“This flight to São Paulo… is an important event because it signifies an important gesture to all those who critically watch what we’re doing with SAA at the moment. There are many naysayers around and many people in the industry - and sometimes outside the industry - who wish it wouldn’t work. But…we are South African and South Africans are known…for resilience, and a sense of vision. We have our pitfalls every now and again.

“But SAA…is going to be a success. This is a sign that the intercontinental flights – not only through code shares, but SAA in its own right – should be around the corner. São Paulo is just the start. We need to see how we can expand the network because…the beneficiary will be South Africans at the end of the day,” he said. –