SAA Still Has Outstanding Debt Of Over R9bn – CEO

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CAPE TOWN: South Africa Airways (SAA) chief executive Vuyani Jarana says the struggling airline has outstanding debt of more than R9 billion that is due to mature early next year.

SAA is appearing before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts to answer questions about its annual report and financial statements, as well as irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure during the 2016/17 financial year.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu in March gave SAA and its subsidiary Mango, qualified opinions and put a question mark over the group’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Jarana says that the R10 billion cash injection from the government last year eased the airline’s financial situation somewhat, but he says its balance sheet remains very weak.

He says that after his appointment in November last year, the board renegotiated the date to repay the more than R9 billion in loans to March next year. 

MPs across all the parties present today have been told that the question of SAA’s technical insolvency has been addressed, with the board and the Auditor-General’s office agreeing that the national carrier has enough cash to see it through.

Jarana says that they’ve moved to stem the losses that SAA’s been incurring on unprofitable domestic routes.

The national airline’s chief financial officer and former acting CEO were last month put on precautionary leave pending disciplinary hearings related to allegations contained in a forensic investigation report.