South Africa aims to have national airline flying again in first half of 2021

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 29 (Reuters) – South Africa’s government said on Thursday it was aiming for its state-owned flag carrier to fly again in the first half of next year, after granting the airline 10.5 billion rand ($650 million). ) bailout in the medium-term budget.

South African Airways (SAA) has been under bankruptcy protection since December and has only operated repatriation and cargo flights since March when the government imposed a strict coronavirus lockdown.

SAA hasn’t made a profit for a decade.

The lockdown was eased on October 1, when the country opened its borders to travelers from certain countries. But SAA administrators mothballed all operations while the government found funding for a restructuring plan approved by creditors in July.

The Department of Public Enterprises, the ministry responsible for SAA, said in a statement that it believed the restructuring plan “would create a solid foundation for the emergence of a competitive, viable and sustainable national airline for the Republic. of South Africa”.

It is one of the few public companies the government is keeping afloat with bailouts at a time of weak economic growth.

A spokeswoman for SAA administrators declined to comment. ($1 = R16.1622) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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