South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) is worried about the hands-off approach the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has adopted towards SA Express.
The state-owned airline was placed under business rescue by an order of the High Court on 6 February, following an application by one of its creditors, Ziegler SA. Despite being listed as a respondent along with Department of Finance, sole shareholder DPE did not bother appearing in court to support SA Express fight the business rescue application.
On Thursday the court-appointed business rescue practitioners (BRP) Phahlani Mkhombo and Daniel Terblanche held their first meeting with creditors and affected persons – their appointment was ratified via ballot by the meeting.
The BRP informed the gathering that although they had held several meetings with representatives of the DPE, they were yet to meet with decision makers at the department. Of critical importance are the funds required to expedite the business rescue. Whereas money was allocated to rescue SAA, no funds have been set aside in SA Express’ instance, mainly because it was involuntary. The BRP have already indicated to DPE that R350 million will be required to save the airline. But to date they have had no response.
The BRP said they have presented three options for the DPE to choose from; choice of which will determine the BRP’s next move.
But the opportunity is now, Terblanche told creditors.
As one of the unions representing employees of SA Express, SATAWU appeals to DPE to act now. Let the appropriately mandated officials meet with the BRP as a matter of urgency, make the requisite funds (cash or guarantee) available as soon as possible so BRP can save the airline.