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SAA still ‘far down the line’ on equity partner discussions

In addition to the money needed to fund its turnaround plan, the airline also has to pay its lenders R9.2 billion by March.

FILE: JB Magwaza (L), South African Airways board chairperson, and CEO Vuyani Jarana (R) appear before Parliament on 27 March 2018. Picture: Lindsay Dentlinger/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – South African Airways (SAA) board chairperson JB Magwaza says the airline is far down the line with preparations to begin discussions for a strategic equity partner.

But, he says the board doesn't believe this is the route the struggling airline should follow.

Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance has on Thursday heard the airline will need R12.5 billion over the next three years to execute its turnaround plan.

In addition to the money needed to fund its turnaround plan, SAA also has to pay its lenders R9.2 billion by March.

Magwaza says the airline’s oversight committee is ready to engage with Treasury on options for a strategic equity partner.

“There are certain decisions that have to be made by government that will guide us in terms of how much of SAA are you prepared to sell.”

But he says the board is not in support of selling off the airline.

“We believe there’s a role that SAA can play and should play in the economy of South Africa.”

Chief executive Vuyani Jarana says he also doesn’t believe business rescue is a suitable option for the airline, because internationally it would be interpreted as a step towards bankruptcy.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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