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SAA administrators seek another rescue plan delay after unions object

The rescue plan for SAA, which has not made a profit since 2011, has been repeatedly pushed back amid fierce wrangling over the airline’s future.

Picture: South African Airways.

JOHANNESBURG - Administrators at state-owned South African Airways (SAA) have asked creditors to delay the publication of a rescue plan for the cash-strapped airline until next week, after trade unions objected to the plan being published on Monday.

The rescue plan for SAA, which has not made a profit since 2011, has been repeatedly pushed back amid fierce wrangling over the airline’s future.

The government and unions have been pressing for SAA to be salvaged in some form, despite its longstanding frailties being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed even once-profitable airlines into financial distress.

The administrators, appointed in December when SAA entered a local form of bankruptcy protection, asked creditors to approve a delay in the publication of the rescue plan until 15 June.

Their latest request followed a letter from the attorneys of the Numsa, Sacca and Saapa unions objecting to the plan being published before unions held further talks with the government on the draft plan.

The administrators said they thought it would not “be appropriate to proceed with the publication of the business rescue plan without conveying the request of the unions that represent a majority of the SAA employees”.

A draft plan from late last month proposed a restructuring funded by more bailouts. It also suggested cutting the airline’s workforce and aircraft fleet roughly in half.