File photo: REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham.

Johannesburg - National carrier SAA’s business rescue practitioners believe there is a reasonable prospect the troubled airline can be saved despite the inevitable risks and challenges.

SAA’s business rescue practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, told its creditors and employees last month that their plan could be successfully implemented subject to the availability of further post-commencement funding and ongoing support from all stakeholders, including the government, staff, trade unions and suppliers. 

Matuson and Dongwana undertook to investigate all options and take into account stakeholders’ input.

The business rescue practitioners met creditors and staff on December 20 at the Sandton, Johannesburg, head office of law firm ENSafrica.

“We believe the business rescue process will achieve a better outcome for all stakeholders than an immediate liquidation,” they told the company’s creditors and employees.

Matuson and Dongwana warned that due to SAA leasing most of its aircraft, in the event of liquidation there would be limited assets to be realised for distribution to creditors.

SAA, which has over 5400 employees, has third-party liabilities of over R20.4 billion, while its annual turnover is about R24bn.

The business rescue practitioners were expected to outline their plans to save the troubled national carrier by next Monday, but have asked for a month-long extension.

Matuson and Dongwana have 25 days to present the plan in terms of the Companies Act, and it has to be published by January 13.

However, they can be granted an extension by a court or through a majority of creditors.

At the meetings, Matuson and Dongwana said they were evaluating various scenarios and funding requirements, but still needed to consult various stakeholders to establish their level of agreement and preferred scenarios.

Matuson and Dongwana requested an extension to February 14 to publish their plan, and requested creditors not in favour of this to submit their objection letters to the independent chair of the creditors’ committee.

After the business rescue plan has been presented, it will be considered and voted on.

Despite its well-documented challenges, this week SAA was named as one of the top-performing airlines globally for on-time performance by travel data and analytics company Cirium.

Political Bureau