Mboweni cites Swiss International Air Lines as pointer for SAA's future

By ANA Reporter Time of article published May 5, 2020

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PARLIAMENT - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Tuesday suggested the formation of Swiss International Air Lines offered a pointer as to how South Africa could create a new airline from the ashes of South African Airways (SAA).

Mboweni told Parliament's standing and select committees on finance on plans by the department of public enterprises to create a new national carrier that is owned publicly and privately and can serve South Africa's trade connections.

The finance minister said he would leave it to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to unveil the details of the plan but pointed members of Parliament (MPs) to the example of how Swiss Air International was created in the wake of the 2002 collapse of Swiss Air.

"May I leave that to Mr Gordhan to deal with so that I don't steal his thunder but for ease of reference I would suggest that in the meantime, members could just look at the experience of Swiss Air which collapsed and from its ashed emerged Swiss International," he said. 

"So you can do a basic desktop research and analysis and that might give you some clues about the likely direction where we might be going."

Mboweni has long argued for the closure of South Africa's loss-making national carrier, and he stressed on Tuesday that the National Treasury was no longer willing to pump money into dysfunctional parastatals.

He has also since 2018 referred to how Swiss Air was allowed to fold after banks would no longer finance it.

"The minister of finance is no longer interested in funding defunct state-owned enterprises. We are no longer interested in pouring public funds into dysfunctional state-owned enterprises," he stressed. 

"But we are interested in supporting those state-owned enterprises which are functioning very well as you know."

The crisis at SAA has been compounded further by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left its entire fleet grounded amid wrangling over the business rescue proposals surrounding the airline's future.

The business rescue team are trying to convince trade unions to sign off on retrenchment agreements for the airline's staff of around 5,000 people, as an alternative to liquidation.

On Tuesday, Comair, the airline operating British Airways's local flights, filed for voluntary business rescue.

- African News Agency (ANA) 

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