National airliner, SAA has surprised markets by announcing a fat after-tax profit of R398-million. But the parastatal’s financials are rather like the food on its flights – it’s hard to tell what’s really in there. SAA has been a serial offender in the hedging disaster category, and past errors - among many other things - complicate this year’s results. But to its credit, the numbers at the very top of the income statement are good: passenger turnover is up a healthy 20%, which is remarkable during the current downturn. Costs are also up, but only as a result of fuel prices. The further down you dig though, the muddier it gets. SAA has suffered a R399-million from interest and hedging premiums. It then suffered an outright hedging loss of just more than R1-billion. It also lists restructuring costs at R474-million which all comes to a small loss of R10-million. But, miraculously, SAA then adds to its income a credit of R407-million “attributable to the net reversal of the 2004 impairment of pre-delivery payments paid to Airbus on the A320 purchase”.
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