Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga said the International Air Services Council (IASC) was satisfied that SAA was fit and able to operate a Class 1 international air service.
Chikunga said the IASC considered a range of factors when deciding on the licensing of an airline, including financial capability, operational ability and route utilisation, among others.
“SAA (Soc) Limited’s last amended licence was last issued on 13 February, 2020, and is still valid,” she said.
Chikunga was responding to DA MP Alf Lees who asked about the financial basis that was taken into account by IASC and the date the council issued the licence to SAA.
Lees noted that Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, did not table in Parliament the annual reports for SAA for the 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years.
This was despite a clause of the International Air Services Act, Act 60 of 1993, that required the council to take into account the financial capability of the national airline.
In her response, Chikunga said the council was an independent entity which governed the regulation of air services, specifically international.
She said it operated within the provisions of the International Air Services Act in considering and continuous monitoring of applications and or licensee’s such as SAA.
“The council was satisfied that SAA (Soc) Ltd is fit and able to operate a Class I international air service based on the supporting/financial information submitted.”
Chikunga explained that one of the considerations taken into account was the financial capability of the airline.
“Financial resources of an airline are considered to be one of the factors in determining whether an airline is capable of providing air services in line with regulations.
“This includes the airline's ability to finance and operate flights, as well as its capacity to maintain and repair aircraft, provide on-board services and facilities, and meet other operational costs.
“The council has utilised both the management accounts and operational plans to assess the capabilities for the airline to operate or continue operating.”
She also said other key considerations in licensing included the operational ability of the airline.
“This encompasses various aspects related to the safety and security of passengers, crew members, and the public. This includes the airline's operational standards, their compliance with regulations, and their ability to maintain and enhance the quality and safety of their service delivery.”
Chikunga added that another important factor that could be considered was the route utilisation of the airline and whether the airline operated certain routes and the frequency at which they were operated.
“The IASC, when considering licensing for an airline, may review the current routes and the capacity of the airline to operate those routes.”