South Africa

South African Airways lost over $700 mln in past 2 years – documents

By Reuters 2 December 2019
Caption
A South African Airlines (SAA) Boeing 737 airliner is seen on the hard shoulder at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, 11 March 2016. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Struggling state-owned airline South African Airways (SAA) lost more than 10.4 billion rand ($700 million) in the past two financial years, documents sent to lawmakers and seen by Reuters showed.

SAA, which has not made a profit since 2011 and is dependent on government bailouts to remain solvent, suffered a crippling strike last month which pushed it to the brink of collapse.

The airline has not publicly published its financial reports for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years and has suffered concerns about whether it will be able to continue operations for at least 12 months.

But a copy of an SAA financial report for the year ending in March 2018 showed a 5.4 billion rand loss, with the company’s liabilities exceeding its assets by around 13 billion rand.

A separate presentation showed that SAA had made a loss of more than 5 billion rand in the year ending March 2019. Both documents were sent to lawmakers on parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

An SAA spokesman asked for questions to be submitted by email but did not immediately provide responses.

Government officials have been holding urgent talks on SAA’s future in recent days.

The public enterprises ministry, which oversees SAA, said on Sunday that the airline needed “radical restructuring” to ensure its financial and operational sustainability.

($1 = 14.7075 rand) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jan Harvey)

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