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CAPE TOWN - Trade union Solidarity yesterday claimed victory after it allegedly got a written undertaking from SAA chief executive Vuyani Jarana that the troubled airline was seeking a strategic partner. 

As a result of the undertaking, the union said it would hold back on its high court bid to place the carrier, which has increasingly relied on government financial support to stay afloat, under business rescue. Finding an equity partner for SAA has been on the cards for a while. 

Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said last year that the government wanted to consolidate SAA and SA Express and find a strategic partner to inject capital to the aviation assets. 

The National Treasury earlier this year said that it could consider selling part of SAA in order to ease the airline’s financial woes. 

“In view of the SAA’s letter in which comprehensive undertakings are given, Solidarity has decided to suspend its application for business rescue for the time being. “It is difficult to immediately proceed with litigation if the other party has conceded in writing to most of our demands,” Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said yesterday. 

According to Solidarity, the written undertaking followed negotiations between Solidarity and SAA about the trade union’s business rescue application. 

The union said Jarana had confirmed in the letter that the South African government announced that the private sector must participate in SAA’s ownership management. 

“Jarana further writes that the shareholder, the SAA board and management agreed to, in view of the pressure to fund SAA, immediately proceed with the process.”