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SAA’s creditors on Crossroads Department of Public Enterprises

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SA TIMES-Embattled South African Airways on crossroads As the date nears for SAA’s creditors to vote on a business rescue plan for flag carrier, the Department of Public Enterprises says it will oppose any last-minute court actions that seek to interdict the meeting.

In a statement on Monday morning, the department said it had been notified of an application by Airlink aimed at interdicting the national carrier’s Business Rescue Practitioners from convening the meeting to vote on the turnaround plan. According to the department, the application seeks to have SAA placed under provisional liquidation.

Airlink did not immediately reply on Monday morning to an emailed request.

The meeting to vote on the plan to determine the future of the airline is set to take place on Thursday, June 25 at 11:00, the day after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tables his supplementary budget.

The department added it was “aware of plans” by two unions at the airline  – the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Airways Cabin Crew Association – to also interdict the creditor’s meeting through the courts.

Numsa and Sacca, in a joint statement published on Friday, said they had “lost all trust in [the] DPE and more particularly in Minister Gordhan, as an honest and competent partner in our endeavor to save SAA.”

The unions said at the time they were considering various legal options, including interdicting voting on the published plan given an “absence of consultation on its development with us as labour, as required by law”.

While the DPE has not been cited as a respondent in the SA Airlink application, it said it would approach the court seeking to intervene to oppose the application by SA Airlink. It said it would also oppose an application by the two unions if one is launched.

“The DPE will also oppose SA Airlink’s application that SAA be placed under provisional liquidation. SA Airlink contends that there is no reasonable prospect of rescuing SAA.

“As we approach the final week to either endorse or reject the business rescue plan by the BRPs, it is disturbing that a competitor of SAA, which is 100% privately owned, as well as two labour unions, who should be acting in the best interest of their members, are seeking to destroy SAA by forcing a liquidation through the courts,” said the department.

“The government is committed to supporting a competitive, viable and sustainable national airline and wishes to engage constructively towards the national interest objective of such an airline in a constrained fiscal environment, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on this situation.”