MIAMI – As another chapter in the South African Airways’ (SA) rescue story, the Finance Minister of South Africa, Tito Mboweni has expressed one more time his doubts about a bailout. The carrier was granted funding just a month ago.

Through his Twitter account, Mboweni asked the public if the country needed a national airline, that is to say, SA, and if so, what they should do with it. He then asked if there should be an opportunity for a private company to fill the gap left by the missing flag carrier.

In October, the minister released a mid-term budget statement in which the airline received ZAR10.5bn. The capital injection details specify the money would be drawn from police and education program budgets. The rescue plan would be mainly used to pay severance packages, ticket refunds and creditors.

For almost the year that SA’s bankruptcy protection has lasted, Mboweni has shown his opposition to use state funds to help the carrier. In contrast, the South African Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has insisted on the carrier’s restructuring, to be effective by partly selling the airline to a private bidder.

South African Airways Airbus A340-600 aircraft. Photo: Montague Smith.

A Long, Uncertain Process to Fly Again

Although the airline received state funding, the restart of flights remains uncertain. In September, the airline’s administrators said that until they reached a deal, all SA operations would be suspended. But the carrier has not flown since March due, of course, to the pandemic.

So far, neither the National Treasury nor SA’s administrators have made any comments on Mboweni’s declarations. However, it seems to be impossible that the bankrupt airline flies back this 2020.

Featured photo: A South African Airlines jet taxis down the runway at Washington/Dulles International Airport. AFP Photo: Karen Bleier.