'Strike has hit the finances of SAA'

The strike at SAA has hit the company's finances hard.
The strike at SAA has hit the company's finances hard.
Image: SAA

The strike that recently saw South African Airways' workers down tools for a week has negatively impacted the balance sheet of the cash-strapped state-owned entity.

This is according to the department of public enterprises, which said the SAA cannot continue "as is".

"The strike at South African Airways SOC Limited (SAA) with consequential cancellation of bookings has resulted in a sudden deterioration of SAA’s financial position," the department said in media statement released on Wednesday.

"Accordingly, the department of public enterprises is working together with SAA to urgently formulate immediate actions that will be required to provide support to enable SAA to carry on its business. However, SAA cannot continue 'as is'."

The department said government efforts as led by minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan were focused on ensuring that the airline was stabilised in the short term and has the necessary support from all stakeholders.

The efforts also aim at seeing the governance and leadership issues being addressed, including the process of appointing an effective management team and that the airline returns to a stronger financial footing in the medium to longer term. 

"None of this can be achieved without the necessary contributions by all the key role players in the airline. The actions being undertaken by the minister include involving relevant stakeholders so that they can participate in the support initiative," read the statement.

The department's media statement comes after SowetanLIVE's sister publication Business Day reported on Wednesday that employees at the troubled state airline will be paid 50% of their November salaries and 13th cheque on Wednesday.

According to the SSA's notice quoted by the newspaper, the company intends to pay the balance of the salaries on Monday.

SAA, which has over the past 13 years bled close to R30-billion, has been depending on government bailouts to stay afloat. The strike cost the company an estimated R50-million a day.