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Plans to merge SAA, SA Express & Mango to come before Cabinet soon

Merging the carriers has been on government’s agenda for years, as it would allow for routes to be rationalised and greater cost savings.

FILE: A South African Airways flight takes off as another one is parked in a bay on the tarmac at OR Tambo International airport in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Plans to merge the country’s three state-owned airlines, South African Airways (SAA), Mango and SA Express are at an advanced stage and could come before Cabinet for approval as early as next week, Parliament has been told.

Merging the carriers has been on government’s agenda for years, as it would allow for routes to be rationalised and greater cost savings.

In May, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan confirmed the merger was firmly on the table, but that the broader strategy still had to be worked out.

Now, lawmakers have been told the proposal is set to go before Cabinet for approval.

That was the message from senior Department of Public Enterprises official Edwin Besa to Parliament’s select committee on public enterprises.

“At the moment, as we speak, the consolidation [plan] is being presented at the economic cluster and next week it will be submitted to Cabinet for a decision. Thereafter, we will be able to decide on how much additional funding the airline will need, based on how the consolidation will be carried out.”

Besa later told Eyewitness News that much would depend on whether the economic cluster of ministries agreed with the merger plan or decides to send it back for further refinement or changes.

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