South African Airways will not be shut down or sold

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South African Airways (SAA) says business will continue as normal after the government clarified that the airline will not be shut down or sold.

The country’s government was forced to clarify its position after finance minister Tito Mboweni told an investor conference that, in his opinion, the loss-making state-owned airline should be shut down.

On 5 November, minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan clarified the government’s position, stating the airline would continue to operate but needs to urgently improve its finances and operations.

Gordhan urges the airline to work with the government to prove it “can be turned into a good business again”.

In a statement on its website, SAA says: “SAA also welcomes the assurance by President Cyril Ramaphosa in parliament on Tuesday last week that the airline will remain in business, noting that government is considering various options, which include the possibility of an equity partner.”

The airline says there are ‘green shoots’ indicating its recovery strategy, which includes adjusting its network is yielding positive results.

SAA says: “Whereas there is more work to be done to implement the strategy, we are encouraged by the progress we are making to turn the company around.”

It says the airline will take three years to break-even but following a government bailout, the situation can be resolved to make SAA a sustainable business.

The airline says it wants to assure stakeholders, customers and suppliers that SAA’s future is not in doubt, saying: “There is every resolve to address long-standing legacy issues, to improve the performance of the business, to regain its market share and to provide its customers continued and improved service.”