Friday, 07 February 2020

Johannesburg: The joint Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) of South African Airways (SAA) have announced further initiatives to support the airline’s transformation into a sustainable and profitable business.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the BRPs, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, said they have worked with industry specialists, government, creditors and executive management to develop a comprehensive restructuring programme which will culminate in a Business Rescue Plan to be published in late February and subsequently presented to creditors for approval.

“In line with SAA’s commitment to take urgent action to conserve cash, and create a viable platform for a successful future, key measures need to be implemented now,” they said.

These measures include targeted changes to the route network, deployment of more fuel-efficient aircraft, and optimisation of organisational structures and renegotiation of key contracts with suppliers.

“The initiatives we are taking now will strengthen SAA’s business. We believe that this should provide reassurance to our loyal customers that SAA is moving in the right direction. We are focused on our mandate to restore SAA’s commercial health and create an airline that South Africans will be proud of,” they said.

Changes to SAA’s Network

Following a careful analysis of SAA’s liquidity challenges and after consultations with all relevant stakeholders, the BRPs identified routes to be retained to drive the restructured national carrier towards profitability.

SAA will continue to operate all international services between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.

Regional services to be retained include from Johannesburg to Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Livingston and Windhoek.

On 29 February 2020, SAA will close regional and international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo.

Domestically, SAA will continue to serve Cape Town on a reduced basis.

However, all other domestic destinations will seize to operate from next month.

“All customers booked on any cancelled international and regional routes will receive a full refund. Customers booked on cancelled domestic flights will be re-accommodated on services operated by Mango,” said the BRPs.

They added that SAA does not intend to make any further significant network changes and the flight schedule for February remains unchanged.

Assets

To improve the airline’s liquidity, they said, rationalisation programmes are under consideration for SAA’s subsidiaries, as well as the sale of selected assets.

Jobs

The joint BRPs have stated that every effort is being taken to limit the impact of job losses in SAA and its subsidiaries.

“It is our intention to restructure the business in a manner that we can retain as many jobs as possible. This will help provide a platform to a viable and sustainable future. However, a reduction in the number of employees will unfortunately be necessary,” Matuson and Dongwana said.

The BRPs said they will engage labour to reach a solution necessary for a sustainable airline going forward.

“The BRPs wish to underline their support of the President’s proclamation for the Special Investigating Unit to examine some of the airline’s contracts. This measure will help in assessing viable agreements and in reducing SAA’s cost base,” they added.

The decisions and actions announced on Thursday, they said, are aimed at improving SAA’s balance sheet, creating a platform for a strong and sustainable airline and ensuring that the company is more attractive for potential strategic equity partners.