A South African Airways Airbus A340 plane prepares to take off at the OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - South African Airways (SAA) has put up for sale nine of its Airbus aircraft, according to a tender document seeking proposals from interested buyers that was seen by Reuters on Thursday.

SAA, which was placed in a form of bankruptcy protection late last year, is selling the Airbus A340-300s and A340-600s as well as 15 spare engines, the document said.

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Earlier on Thursday it was reported that SAA might have to suspend some flights and delay salary payments if the government can't come up with a plan soon to provide the R2 billion it promised the airline last month, a trade union official said on Wednesday.

State-owned SAA entered a form of bankruptcy protection last month in an effort to rescue the company and 10 000 related jobs. At the time it was promised R2 billion from the government and R2 billion from lenders.

But unions briefed by the specialists appointed to turn around the carrier were told on Wednesday that the government had not yet been able to provide its portion of the funds and that the 2 billion rand from lenders had been exhausted, National Transport Movement president Mashudu Raphetha told Reuters.

Unions were told SAA's business rescue practitioners needed clarity from government on the R2 billion of promised funding by the end of January 19, Raphetha said.

Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, the business rescue practitioners, said in a statement: "We remain hopeful that a mechanism can be found to unlock the liquidity constraints."

Reuters