'End Game' Looms for South African Airways After 86 Years of Operations

South African Airways (SAA) is in the verge of closure after the state government has said that it can no longer give funds to save the ailing carrier. It is also planning to retrench its entire workforce of 4,700 employees at the end of the month as administrators has concluded that it is unlikely that the airline would be able to make a turn around.

While the airline had been on the red since 2012, the Coronavirus pandemic did further aggravate the airline's situation.

SAA said "“It is unlikely that the company will be successfully rescued as a result of the business rescue process. In order to make payment of the severance packages … the company is required to sell and dispose of its assets," in a statement to Reuters.

In a report from Bloomberg, SAA has relied on bailouts and state-guaranteed debt agreements for years, having last made a profit in 2011, and was put into a form of bankruptcy protection in December. However, Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhand said that with the cost that goes with battling the CoviD-19 pandemic, no more 'lifelines' can be extended to the airline.

The CoviD-19 is proving to be the final blow to the airline after it halted regular passenger flights on March 24 in line with the travel restrictions imposed by the statement government to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The airline however continues to operate cargo flights and "repatriation flights".

SAA faces an uncertain future as the CoviD-19 crisis drags on. The crisis has been considered the worse to hit the global aviation industry since World War II. The International Air Trasport Association (IATA) estimates that the whole aviation industry may lose up to $314 billion.

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