Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba Photo: Reuters
Parliament - Cash-strapped SAA has insisted in Parliament it would be able to pay its staff and suppliers, despite facing a financial crisis.

SAA’s appearance in Parliament on Friday came as Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba warned the airline it would not get “free money” from the state to stay afloat.

The cash crisis has led to reports it was so broke it would not be able to pay its staff. The airline needs a multibillion-rand rescue package from the state to stay afloat.

Despite the financial crisis, acting chief executive Musa Zwane and chief financial officer Phumeza Nhantsi assured MPs the airline would be able to meet their financial obligations and pay staff salaries.

Zwane said various cost-cutting measures had been put in place to bring financial stability to the airline. However, MPs said the cash crisis had reached a point where there was no money to pay staff at the end of the month.

Alf Lees of the DA said the financial reports they had seen showed the airline would not pay staff salaries and its suppliers.

Nhantsi admitted the airline did not pay some of its suppliers last month.

However, it would ensure staff salaries were paid and would settle outstanding debt if they were given an extension on their loans.

Nhantsi would not say how much was outstanding to suppliers and what their monthly salary bill was.

He said they were talking to their lenders to ensure the money due at the end of the next month was not recalled.

He said if they extended their loans with the lenders they would be able to pay staff salaries and suppliers.

In addition, the airline expected a financial bailout from the state.

Nhantsi said the airline had more than 20 suppliers which it needed to pay.

“Another arrangement we have made with the suppliers is not to pay them a lump sum, but to pay them on a weekly basis so we don't double or triple the debt,” she said.

Gigaba said there were many things they were working on to get the national carrier out of financial trouble, including cutting costs.

He said the newly appointed chief executive Vuyani Jarana, who was an executive at Vodacom, would work with the board and management to turn around the financial woes of the airline.

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