Low-cost airline Mango has announced a temporary suspension of flights to Zanzibar from 25 April (Sunday), due to financial difficulties.
The decision was informed by delays in funding from its shareholder, South African Airways (SAA), said Mango spokesperson Benediction Zubane, adding that they had been waiting since January. SAA received a R10.5 billion bailout from government last year to implement its business rescue plan.
“As soon as money can flow into our coffers, that will certainly give us some leeway to be able to render services to our customers,” Zubane told Newzroom Afrika’s anchor Phakamile Hlubi.
Zubane said an empty flight to Zanzibar has been scheduled for Saturday to fetch customers with return tickets who are already at the Tanzanian island.
Pressed on the amount owed to clients and service providers by Hlubi, Mango spokesperson Benediction Zubane said he could not divulge a number but said the amount was “substantial”.
Zubane added that “once mooted funding by the DPE [Department of Public Enterprises] was fulfilled, Mango would be on a sound financial footing to commercial viability”.
Zanzibar is Mango’s only international destination and the route suspension comes after news that the airline would pause its entire operation in May – a development a former senior manager at the airline has called a “f**king shame”.
In an internal mail leaked to The Citizen on Thursday, the airline’s management advised its staff that Mango’s last flights until reignition would occur on 30 April.
Department of Public Enterprises spokesperson Richard Mantu on Thursday said that “the department is in discussions with the board of Mango and interim board at SAA about the repositioning of the subsidiaries in light of the delayed funding”.
Additional reporting by Hein Kaiser