Mango Airlines staff demand business rescue to save the cash-strapped airline
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EMPLOYEES at Mango Airlines said they had no choice but to approach the courts to have the low-cost arm of state-owned SA Airways (SAA) placed under business rescue.
This comes after growing fears that the airline might not survive due to financial difficulties; employees had also not been paid their June salaries. It was not clear if they would get paid their July salaries. The Star understands that the cash-strapped SAA subsidiary was waiting for a cash injection.
The South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) said employees had been working for free and were running into financial problems. Union spokesperson Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said there were other concerns at the airline such as long-term bookings not being allowed and the lack of communication by management as to what the future of the company is. The Star understands that the airliner employs more than 700 people.
“Basically, we have now decided that we should place Mango on business rescue. We don't want to do it but it’s about the survival of the airline; no one is talking about the solution for Mango,” Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said.
She said business rescue would likely see the company being restructured. There were high hopes that such a move could save jobs. The union said it was also unsure how the sale of SAA would impact on the low-cost airline.
“We are not getting any response from the Department of Public Enterprises. The way things are going we don’t have a choice; we are between a rock and a hard place. Mango is not overstaffed, it just needs restructuring. We think that this could be a positive thing,” Nsibanyoni-Mugambi added.
Mango Pilots Association chairperson Jordan Butler said the pilots were also owed around six months of their salaries. He said the lack of payment of salaries and secrecy from the Department of Public Enterprises was weighing heavily on the pilots.
“People have had to move in with their parents, some can't pay their medical aids, some have lost their cars. It’s really not sitting well with many of our members,” Butler said.
He added that the pilots really wanted to make sure that the airline survived because there were less chances that the pilots employed by Mango would be able to get other jobs in the current economic climate.
“The only option would be for us to go overseas but even there the situation is not good so we are just going to have to fight for our jobs,” Butler said.
Mango Airlines declined to comment on the matter. Department of Public Enterprises spokesperson Richard Mantu was not available for comment.