File image: SA Express. IOL.

CAPE TOWN - SA Express reportedly paid R2.4 billion to music promoter, Eldrige Mothlake after he was awarded a three-year contract to supply the airline with fuel. 

According to reports by the Sunday Times, two of the airline's executives, Sam Vilakazi and Merriam Mochoele allegedly orchestrated the deal with EML Energy which is owned by Mothlake. 

The deal was reportedly struck without any formal procedures such as a tender process and consultation with SA Express board and management. 

Despite the deal, the airline reportedly did not receive any fuel. The contract is now reportedly under investigation. 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan announced on May 24 that South African Airways (SAA), SA Express and Mango are to merge. 

“Bringing the airlines together and rationalising their routes are important. Rationalising the kind of aircraft needed at a particular time and day – that’s the experience we’re beginning to learn from airlines around the world,” he said.

“It’s that synergy and savings. Our net guess is that by putting the airlines together, we can go through a transition period where there are going to be difficulties.

“If you have something dysfunctional and (you) try to sell it, you will get little for it. The real challenge is putting the right people in the right places both on boards and management teams, and having the right oversight,” he said.

Additionally, Gordhan announced the appointment of a new SA Express board, chaired by Mmakeaya Magoro Tryphosa Ramano.

A briefing by South African Airways (SAA) to Parliament's finance committee was called off on May 23 after MPs from the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) clashed on whether the meeting should be closed to the public.

Acting finance committee chairwoman Thandi Tobias stopped SAA executives from presenting its fourth-quarter results, saying a decision was taken at the last meeting of the committee that the meeting be closed, something the DA said never happened.

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE