While many airlines in recent months have been grounded due to lack of passengers and tourism in a time of coronavirus, that is not what is ailing South African Airways (SAA).
The original sin at the troubled national carrier is state capture, not Covid-19, says public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
The phenomenon hit the whole group; including subsidiaries Mango, the low-cost domestic and regional airline; SAA Technical (SAAT), the aircraft maintenance specialist and AirChefs which provides in-flight meals.
Years of unchecked state capture culminated in SAA crash-landing into state bailout on 6 December 2019 and it has been a costly endeavour.
As of December 2020, R200m ($13m) in fees has been paid — and counting. The government has so far coughed up R7.8bn ($522m), with another R2.7bn ($180m) still to come, for restructuring and recapitalising SAA’s subsidiaries.
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