South African Airways was placed under a state-led rescue plan on Thursday as part of a massive restructuring following a costly week-long strike last month.
Thousands of South African Airways (SAA) staff walked out on November 15 after the cash-strapped airline failed to meet a string of demands, including higher wages and job in-sourcing.
The strike was called off the following week after SAA management and unions eventually clinched a deal.
But the walkout dealt a severe blow to the debt-ridden airline, which has failed to make a profit since 2011 and survives on government bailouts.
“The Board of SAA has adopted a resolution to place the company into business rescue,” said a statement by South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, adding that the decision was also supported by the government.
“It must be clear that this is not a bailout,” said Gordhan. “This is the provision of financial assistance in order to facilitate a radical restructure of the airline.”
South Africa is struggling to get state-owned companies back on track after nine years of corruption and mismanagement under former president Jacob Zuma.
– Costly strike –
Its national airline — which employs more than 5,000 workers and is Africa’s second largest airline after Ethiopian Airlines — had been losing 52 million rand ($3.5 million) a day during the strike.
SAA’s board said the business rescue, scheduled to start immediately, was decided after consultations with shareholders and the public enterprises department “to find a solution to our company’s well-documented financial challenges”.
“The considered and unanimous conclusion has been to place the company into business rescue in order to create a better return for the company’s creditors and shareholders,” said the SAA board of directors in a statement.