Losses keep pour­ing in for on-the-ropes SAA

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

SAA’S fi­nan­cial woes deep­ened with the na­tional air­line suffering a loss of R734 mil­lion last month, just two months into the start of the new fi­nan­cial year in ad­di­tion to losses of R1.5bn recorded last year and R4.5bn in the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year.

The night­mares be­came more pro­nounced in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day when board mem­bers failed to at­tend chair­per­son Dudu Myeni’s meet­ing with the stand­ing com­mit­tee on fi­nance – be­sides chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Phumeza Nhantsi.

SAA was also on the ropes over the R9bn in loans with the lenders de­mand­ing re­pay­ment by Fri­day.

How­ever, Na­tional Trea­sury said the loans would be ex­tended al­though there was a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion that wanted its loan paid by Fri­day.

Re­ports claimed that Stan­dard Char­tered Bank, the Bri­tish di­vi­sion of Stan­dard Bank, wanted its full amount of R2.3bn to be set­tled at the end of the month.

But Trea­sury di­rec­tor­gen­eral Dondo Mo­ga­jane said dis­cus­sions were on­go­ing. They had op­tions avail­able and many lenders were open to the idea of rolling over the loans.

“We are en­gag­ing with them and we are con­fi­dent,” he said.

Myeni said they were in talk with a lender over the loan but would not dis­close which one. How­ever, it was be­lieved to be Stan­dard Char­tered.

She as­sured salaries would be paid to SAA em­ploy­ees de­spite MPs’ con­cerns about the fi­nan­cial sta­tus of the na­tional car­rier.

Alf Lees of the DA said SAA lost R734m last month. This was just the start of the new fi­nan­cial year.

Lees said the air­line was in a state of fi­nan­cial chaos and called on the loans to be made public.

He said he was still con­cerned whether SAA would meet the Fri­day dead­line, charg­ing it was on the verge of bank­ruptcy and could grind to a halt.

Thandi Tobias-Pokolo of the ANC said they would not de­fend any state-owned en­tity (SOE) that was not do­ing well.

She said that SOEs must get their busi­nesses back on track.

Nhantsi told the com­mit­tee the board was in the process of fix­ing its debt port­fo­lio.

“We are work­ing on a so­lu­tion to en­sure the loans are ex­tended,” Nhantsi as­sured MPs.

PHOTO: SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI

SAA’s Dudu Myeni as­sured the air­line’s staff would be paid.

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