Johannesburg - The Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) has said it is not in its interests to see an airline fail.
This comes after 1Time airline, which was put under provisional liquidation by the North Gauteng High Court this week, blamed the company for its woes.
Earlier, 1Time’s business rescue practitioner criticised Acsa’s “overall negative attitude”.
“Acsa was only interested in recovering debts, without considering the ripple effect on the airline’s operations,” said Gerhard Holtzhauzen, 1Time’s business rescue practitioner.
But Acsa spokesman Solomon Makgale said: “1Time is our client it is in not our interest to see airlines fail. But we have to strike a balance. Acsa is a business and we can’t just allow debt to grow and grow.”
Acsa was the airline’s largest creditor, claiming R147 million. The company forced 1Time to pay for current services in cash the day after service was rendered, and in advance over weekends and public holidays.
“The aforementioned pay ment terms constrained 1time’s cash flow,” Holtzhauzen said. “To make matters worse, the reconciliation done by Acsa set off payments received to historic debts, despite the historic claims being ring-fenced.”
As a result, shareholders were reluctant to take up a rights issue in 1Time Holdings, which would have boosted the struggling airline by about R80m. A major international airline company had expressed interest in acquiring the airline, but the timing and transfer of the business, as well as its short-term cash requirements caused it to back out.
“We were very supportive throughout,” said Makgale.
“When they applied for business rescue, we approached them and said: ‘Let’s sit down and see if we can work something out’.”
But when 1Time announced last Friday that it was halting all operations, even Acsa was surprised.
“It came as a surprise. Acsa’s wish for the airline was for it to find a way out of its financial difficulties”, he said.
Meanwhile Susan van der Ryst, the strategic communications manager for Comair, said the company had extended an invitation to unemployed 1Time staff to submit their CVs. “Comair would like to give 1Time employees the opportunity to be considered for available positions relevant to their experience, but unfortunately cannot guarantee any employment.
“Comair follows a rigorous recruitment and selection process and any vacancies will be filled in accordance with its Recruitment and Employment Equity policy,” she said. - Saturday Star