Grounded low cost airline Skywise has launched a double legal challenge against Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) after Acsa grounded it early in December due to outstanding payments.
Skywise has not resumed flights since.
Skywise co-chair Javed Malik told Moneyweb on Tuesday afternoon the airline has filed a civil case in the South Gauteng High Court against Acsa for breach of contract. He said Skywise was awaiting Acsa’s replying affidavit.
In a press release on Tuesday Skywise further announced that it has registered a complaint of abuse of dominance with the Competition Commission against Acsa.
Skywise’s other co-chair Tabassum Quadir said: “It is prohibited for a dominant firm to refuse to give access to an essential facility when it is economically feasible to do so.”
Skywise appealed to the Competition Commission to investigate its complaint and end what it considers to be prohibited conduct by Acsa.
Malik asked: “How was it economically feasible for Acsa to suspend Skywise Airlines in the month of December for an arrear instalment of R1.6 million, while they had R1.9 million in deposit and Skywise was on a fly-as-you-pay arrangement?”
According to the statement Skywise had projected revenue of more than R50 million in December, which was lost as a result of Acsa’s action.
“It was a deliberate attempt and very soon we will reveal this,” Malik said.
Skywise’s announcement comes as indications surfaced that South African Airways (SAA) has deferred a payment of R50 million to Acsa by a month. The payment was due by December 31. Citi Bank’s cancellation of SAA’s short-term banking facility of R250 million on December 24, however put extreme pressure on SAA’s liquidity, which apparently necessitated the deferment.
Neither SAA nor Acsa would confirm that the payment was deferred, but it was stated in the same internal SAA document that disclosed the Citi Bank cancellation. National Treasury confirmed the Citi Bank decision and said it is working with SAA to ensure enough liquidity.
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