South African Airways (SAA) announced that it aims to resume domestic flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town from mid-June.
Like most airlines around the world, the SAA stopped operations as the coronavirus rapidly spread. The news to begin operations came as South Africa begins to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions. SAA is currently under a form of bankruptcy protection known as ‘business rescue’.
It would be noted that President Cyril Ramaphosa said that domestic air travel for business purposes would be phased in when the country moves to level 3 of a five-level alert system. South Africa is currently on alert level 4, a tougher level of anti-coronavirus restrictions.
Ramaphosa did not give an exact date when business travellers would be able to fly domestically. However, South African Airways has said it was preparing to resume flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town when permissible. It added it had decided to extend cancellations of all regional and intercontinental flights until the end of June.
“SAA is committed to restart further operations on an incremental basis, and will regularly provide updates on progress,” the statement said.
BRPs shut down SAA’s plans to fly again
South African Airways business rescue practitioners (BRPs) however have debunked the airline’s announcement to resume flights. They say are “unvetted”. Furthermore, the BRPs says that communication from the airline was sent out in violation of their communications protocol.
“The position around the cessation of flights remains as is until SAA has a better sense of what the level 3 lock down means in terms of domestic air travel,” the administrators said.
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The BRPs are currently wrestling with the government over the future of SAA. While Department of Public Enterprises wants the business to be salvaged and restructured into a new airline, the administrators believe the only options are to wind the business down, or to liquidate.
The parties have agreed to work together – and not sell any assets – until a business rescue plan is formulated.
“The airline needs to consider what the opening of the skies will mean from a commercial and load factor perspective. SAA’s future funding also remains a key variable in all of the above considerations,” the BRPs said.
The administrators said that their focus is currently on the publication of the business rescue plan