Ethiopian Airlines has offered to assist South Africa Airways (SAA) to return to the skies. Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam states in a tweet that the support Ethiopian carrier is willing to give SAA is limited operational support. This will entail being aided with airplanes and pilots but no cash injection into the airline.
Earlier on, Bloomberg reports that South Africa’s ruling political party, the African National Congress (ANC). African Aviation Services Limited prepared the report. Their CEO, Nick Fadugba presented the report to South African lawmakers.
It will be recalled that South African Airways has been operating at a loss since 2011. The airline needs 10 billion South African Rand or $603 million. It had been surviving due to government bailouts which the government says it can no longer give.
According to Fadugba, who wrote that “After a thorough analysis, our preferred strategic equity partner for SAA is Ethiopian Airlines.”
Ethiopian Airlines shares a similar “Pan-African vision” to SAA and is Africa’s strongest carrier, Fadugba further explained in the report.
And since, “South Africa has the strongest aviation market on the African continent,” Fadugba’s reports, citing research that shows that five of the 10 most lucrative routes in Africa are in or from South Africa, three of the continent’s 10 busiest airports are in South Africa and six of the 10 busiest routes are in or from the country.
He further adds that, Ethiopian Airlines is willing to provide planes, pilots and maintenance services to SAA, but doesn’t want to assist with paying off its debts and meeting the costs of cutting its workforce, according to a tweet from Tewolde GebreMariam, the airline’s chief executive officer.
Fadugba wrote that the South African government should take over SAA’s debt and not burden a new partner with them.
On a final note, the aviation expert wrote that “Without a strategic partner, all ongoing restructuring efforts being made are akin to once again rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
No formal response has emerged from the government of South Africa, the Rescue Team or other concerned stakeholders.