Hein Kaiser
Journalist
3 minute read
30 Apr 2021
12:13 pm

Mango can be saved as SAA business rescue practitioner to file for exit today

Hein Kaiser

Sources inside SAA and Mango say plans are afoot to prevent Mango from taking off on its final flight today.

Mango airline passengers were stranded at OR Tambo Airport earlier this week. Photo: Supplied

Mango may be saved. In fact, a betting man could say that it’s even money either way today.

And, while airline spokesperson Benediction Zubane would not answer questions about any continuity plans, sources inside the airline’s executive have shared some hope. Mango may only temporarily be grounded, starting 1 May.

There are essentially three ways in which Mango can be saved; selling it off to the private sector, a capital injection from a “rescued” SAA or funding via the mooted Special Appropriations Bill for the flag carrier’s subsidiaries.

As things stand, Mango operates for the last time today.

However, Louise Brugmann of the SAA business rescue practitioner confirmed that it is “filing [for exit] today”.

In essence this means that a notice of substantive implementation can be issued to the companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) so SAA will once again be a going concern. This chain of events will allow the SAA board to consider funding Mango. While this may not be an overnight process, it may vastly reduce the beleaguered low-cost carrier’s time spent in hibernation and give staff some certainty.

When asked about this possible scenario, SAA did not want to provide comment.

Mango’s Zubane added to the intrigue surrounding the speculation by refusing to answer, rather noting “we can only respond to your questions once we have go-head from both our boards as earlier indicated. We are not responding for now.”

A draft media release, which was telephonically shared with The Citizen by an insider details the intended temporary suspension.

Mango a shining light in the dark

The Mango brand has mostly been a state-owned corporation success story with the airline’s past littered with milestones and achievements. The airline has won several awards throughout the years and, beyond the frustration of “no-go Tuesday” this week, the majority of comments on the airline’s social media show that South Africa is behind the brand.

An extract from a passenger post on Facebook succinctly shares this sentiment. “Flight delays are better than hearing the news of retrenchments from the airline. God be with you Mango and how you can solve all your problems…..We are with you and we pray for you ..Stay safe And God Protect the Mango Airline.”

Saving Mango a step to privatisation?

The DA’s Alf Lees, who comments on SAA and subsidiaries, says that an SAA exit from business rescue would be pure fiction.

“It’s simply a tool to funnel money from SAA to its subsidiaries Mango and SAA Technical should it play out this way. It will be an elaborate exercise in saving face, but at least it would save several hundred jobs.”

He adds that in this instance saving Mango should be the first step towards privatisation. Insofar as raiding funding from the national Treasury through the mooted Special Appropriations Bill, Lees says that it does not appear to have been an agenda priority, ergo stretching a timeline that the faltering subsidiaries could ill afford.

Earlier this week SAA Technical announced it would be restructuring and consequently shedding jobs.

Richard Mantu of the Department of Public Enterprises reiterated its previous statement that the DPE is “in discussions with the board of Mango and SAA about the repositioning of subsidiaries, including Mango”.