Cape Town- Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has again used confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses as his latest explanation for not providing some information on South African Airways (SAA) aircraft.
This came into play when DA MP Alf Lees sent two sets of parliamentary questions to Gordhan.
Lees wanted to know whether the SA Airways has leased, purchased and/ or acquired any aircraft since September, 2021.
He also enquired about the details of each aircraft, the date each was received by SAA, the lessor and/or seller of each aircraft, costs of each lease, and the full terms of each lease.
In his written response, Gordhan confirmed that SAA has leased six aircraft since September, 2021.
He also said the aircraft lease cost was a “power by the hour agreement”.
Gordhan said one Airbus A330-300 was leased from a “reputable lessor” and was received on August 17, 2021.
Three Airbus A319 aircraft were from another “well-established lessor” and received on March 30, 2022.
Two Airbus A320 aircraft were leased from a third “reputable lessor”.
Gordhan would not furnish the names of lessors, citing “confidentiality reasons”.
He said while he understood the importance of transparency and the need to provide comprehensive information, the full terms of the lease agreements could not be disclosed due to several reasons.
“The primary reason is the confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses present in the lease agreements signed between South African Airways (SAA), and the respective lessors.
“These clauses are standard in commercial agreements to protect the interests of both parties involved,” the minister said.
Gordhan said parliamentary questions should not be used as an opportunity to “compromise the interests and confidentiality of involved entities”.
“In summary, the full terms of the lease agreements cannot be shared due to the confidentiality clauses in the contracts, the competitive nature of the aviation industry, and the need to protect both SAA and the lessors’ commercial interests.
“However, we assure you that all lease agreements have been entered into following due process and with the best interests of SAA and the South African public in mind,” he said.
Meanwhile, SAA has sold one aircraft and returned three others since September, 2021.
Gordhan said the SAA-owned A340 aircraft was sold through a very competitive tender process.
“The first aircraft was delivered to the buyer and SAA will deliver the second A340 this month.
“The other A340s will follow, once they complete their checks with SAA Technical,” he said.
He also said SAA returned three A319 aircraft to the lessor in March, 2023 as they had reached the end of the contract.
Gordhan did not disclose the income received for the transactions, saying SAA had refrained from providing commercially sensitive information to Lees’s response, as they operated “in a highly competitive environment”.
Gordhan has previously refused to provide information on the sale of SAA shares to Takatso Consortium.