Business

Acsa 'regrets' 1Time's liquidation

Sapa

The decision by 1Time airline to file for liquidation and ground all of its flights was sad and regrettable, Airports Company South Africa said.

1Time chief executive Blacky Komani (Gallo)

"We have been working very closely with 1Time over the years and this a very sad time for everyone involved," spokesperson Solomon Makgale said on Friday.. 

He said Acsa had an agreement with 1Time to put the airline on cash terms as a way of ensuring that the airline's debt did not escalate further. "Although this was the case, today's decision by 1Time was solely theirs. Acsa had been engaging 1Time's business rescue practitioner, along with other creditors," Makgale said.

"It is regrettable that no final business rescue plan was put before the creditors for consideration. As advised by 1Time, passengers booked on 1Time should make alternative travel arrangements." 

The low-cost carrier announced on Friday that it had applied for business liquidation, and that all of its flights had been grounded.

"It is ... with the utmost regret, disappointment and heartfelt disbelief that we have to file for liquidation, which means the end of a dream and an era for all of us," 1Time chief executive Blacky Komani said in the company's statement.

The firm had about R320-million in short-term debt and had been in negotiations with creditors since March.

Nedbank said on Friday that cardholders who purchased tickets from 1Time using a credit card branded with a Visa, MasterCard or an American Express logo, may contact their issuing bank for a chargeback. "A chargeback is a reversal of a transaction because the goods or services that were purchased were not provided by the merchant," the bank said.

"Cardholders should raise a chargeback within 60 days to allow enough time for Nedbank to validate the chargeback before we submit it to the acquirer."

The Democratic Alliance said on Friday that SA Airways (SAA) must offer discounted flights to stranded 1Time passengers.

"As the long-time beneficiary of generous government support ... SAA should do everything it can to assist 1Time passengers, and we strongly encourage them to offer discounted flight options to stranded 1Time travellers," DA MP Natasha Michael said.

She said the liquidation proved that private airlines could not compete with their state-funded counterparts.

"Does every privately funded domestic airline have to shut down before government admits that the funding model for the national carrier is killing the aviation industry?" Michael asked.

Comair chief executive Erik Venter said 10 out of 11 private airlines launched in South Africa since the industry was deregulated in 1991 had failed. "Due to the less efficient fleet it operated, the ultimate closure of 1Time was inevitable," he said in a statement

. "However, we are certain that in the absence of state-subsidised Mango, 1Time would have made adequate profits to upgrade its fleet and be sustainable over the long term."

He said Comair would have to put up resistance to "unfair competition" from SAA and Mango.

"This is not new to us ... we have been dealing with this for most of our history." Mango chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout said the airline regretted the liquidation. "While we may have been competitors, the liquidation of 1Time is not good news. Not only does it impact the families of employees but also thousands of people with confirmed travel across the country and the aviation sector as a whole," Bezuidenhout said.

"Everyone at Mango's hearts go out to our friends and industry colleagues at 1Time." – Sapa

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