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SAA's business rescue practitioners accused of wasting taxpayers’ money

The criticism comes after Siviwe Dongwana And Les Matuson's decision to appeal the Labour Court's ruling, preventing their plans of cutting jobs at SAA from going ahead.

Picture: @flysaa_care/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) have accused South African Airways (SAA) business rescue practitioners (BRPs) of wasting taxpayers’ money to defend their incompetence at the troubled airline.

The criticism comes after Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson's decision to appeal the Labour Court's ruling, preventing their plans of cutting jobs at SAA from going ahead.

Last week, Judge Andre van Niekerk granted the unions an interdict opposing retrenchments at SAA until the rescue practitioners produce a business plan.

Numsa's spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said: “Instead of wasting the court’s time and spending money, which does not belong to them, rather deliver on a business rescue plan. As Numsa and Sacca, we remain committed to this process and in particular, we remain committed to our members and we are engaging with the Department of Public Enterprises for a turnaround for SAA and SA Express.”

SELLING ASSETS

The administrators at SAA will not sell assets for an interim period without involving the government, a memorandum signed by one of the administrators and the public enterprises ministry showed.

The memorandum, which was seen by Reuters, also said the administrators and the ministry had agreed that the objective of SAA’s bankruptcy protection process was to have a restructured SAA or a new company with no reliance on public finances.

A public enterprises ministry spokesman confirmed the memorandum was an authentic document.

The administrators were not immediately available for comment.

SAA’s administrators, appointed in December to try to rescue the firm, have said previously that a wind-down or liquidation of the loss-making airline were likely outcomes.

Senior officials at the public enterprises ministry have criticised the administrators for not coming up with a “business rescue plan” for SAA sooner and recently hired an aviation consultancy to advise them.

The “interim period” during which the administrators will not sell assets without consulting the ministry lasts until 30 June at the latest, the memorandum said.

SAA has not made a profit since 2011 and has received bailouts worth more than R20 billion over the past three years. It is running low on cash after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to halt all commercial passenger flights and the government told the administrators it would not provide further funding.