SA Express affairs investigated ahead of court D-Day

The newly appointed provisional liquidator of SA Express is in the process of investigating the affairs of the state-owned regional airline.

The airline was placed in provisional liquidation on 28 April after its business rescue practitioners filed an urgent court application in that regard.

“We are in the process of engaging all stakeholders and affected parties, which, inter alia, includes meeting with the former BRPs and former management of the company (including its board) as well as all the creditors of the company,” Aviwe Ndyamara of the Tshwane Trust Company said on Friday.

“Currently SA Express is in provisional liquidation, which means there is an opportunity for any affected party to make representations at court on the return date of 9 June on why the provisional liquidation order should not be made final.”

The management of the airline has been placed in the full control of the provisional liquidator.Ndyamara explained that there is a major difference between a business rescue process and a liquidation.

“The role of the business rescue practitioner is to publish a plan that entails how to trade a company back to solvency or alternatively to wind it down for a better result than liquidation,” says Ndyamara.”The role of a liquidator, on the other hand, is to investigate the affairs of a company in the view of recovering funds and disposing of assets to the benefit of creditors.”

In answer to a question about the state of affairs at SA Express, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said during his briefing to Parliament on Wednesday evening that “there is a case to be made for SA Express”.

He said the Department of Public Enterprises is helping with an application to the UIF to help with the payment of salaries at the airline.

“Depending what kind of configuration emerges [at SAA], we can see what we are going to do in terms of SA Express’ workers as well,” said Gordhan.

“SA Express has been going through a tough time and there was lots of corruption there. Those matters are with law enforcement agencies now.”

In March SA Express, like other airlines had to suspend operations due to travel bans imposed for the national lockdown in SA.

Financial pressures

SA Express was placed under business rescue in March this year due to financial pressures that resulted from years of mismanagement and state capture. The application to place it into business rescue was brought by ZieglerSA, a service provider to the airline.

Before SA Express was placed under business rescue, government mandated the board and management to investigate and terminate a number of irregular contracts as a way to save money and root out corruption, according to the department.

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