Cape Town - The staff of Sun Air were waiting yesterday for a decision by

Jeff Radebe, the minister for public enterprises, on whether the airline

could be revived if new investments were available from the private sector.

Glenn Watson, the chairman of the Sun Air branch of the Airline Pilots

Association of South Africa, said it had offers of investment and was

preparing a business plan with the help of consultants.

Meanwhile, it emerged that Sun shareholders had paid only R20 million of the

R40 million the government was to receive for their shares when the airline

was privatised in 1997. Under a confidential agreement the second tranche

was due in February next year.

Johan Borstlap, the managing director of Sun Air, said he had not been

involved in negotiations between the shareholders and South African Airways

(SAA), which had culminated in an agreement for SAA to buy the 75 percent of

Sun Air owned by black empowerment groups and put the company into


He said he had been informed of this decision only on Wednesday last week,

when he was told the airline would stop flying last Friday. "It was the

shareholders` decision and there was nothing I could do," he said.

He would not disclose the extent of Sun`s losses but said the company could

have been turned around. It was normal to suffer losses in the first two

months of the financial year, during the low season, and recoup them later.

Borstlap said that though Sun Air had suffered from a nine-month price war,

the root cause of its troubles was the botched privatisation. He said

Rethabile, the controlling shareholder, had failed to capitalise the airline


Borstlap said the 25 percent shareholding of BA-Comair, a franchise holder

of British Airways, discouraged other international airlines from allowing

themselves to be associated closely with Sun.

Radebe, who was not involved in the privatisation of Sun Air, has not

approved the deal between the shareholders and SAA. He has refused to write

off the R20 million still owed for the shares.