SAA misses key deadline amid doubts

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Airline

Johannesburg - South African Airways, the government-owned airline, missed an August 31 deadline to submit its annual financial report to parliament and hasn’t set a date to release results for the year through March.

“We have written to the speaker of parliament to indicate that South African Airways will submit its annual report late,” Richard Mantu, spokesman for South Africa’s Department of Public Enterprises, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

He didn’t give reasons for the delay.

SAA reported a loss of 1.36 billion rand ($133 million) in the year through March 2012 and is on its third chief executive officer in a year.

The airline is technically insolvent and will probably need to request more financial support from the state to survive, Johannesburg-based newspaper Beeld reported on November 18, citing unidentified people.

SAA’s fiscal 2013 loss was almost 1.5 billion rand, Beeld said.

SAA is waiting for the Department of Public Enterprises to set a date for its annual meeting, at which the timing for a full-year earnings statement will probably be announced, spokesman Tlali Tlali said by phone today.

He declined to comment on the reasons for the delays or on the Beeld report.

SAA chief executive Monwabisi Kalawe said on October 3 he anticipates better financial results for the year through March 2013, although SAA will continue to need state support over the next four to five years.

The company’s balance sheet is weak and its cost position too high, Business Day newspaper said on October 24, citing Kalawe.

SAA is renewing its fleet as part of a turnaround strategy aimed at returning to profitability by 2017.

The government gave the carrier, Africa’s biggest, a 5 billion-rand debt guarantee in October 2012 to ensure it can borrow from financial markets to support a recovery.

Kalawe has said the rand’s performance is important to the state enterprise’s finances.

The currency has fallen 17 percent against the dollar this year, the worst performer of 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. - Bloomberg News


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