Nationwide under provisional liquidation

Nationwide Airlines has been placed under provisional liquidation, an attorney for the company said on Wednesday.

“We applied yesterday [Tuesday] at 3pm and were placed under provisional liquidation. It is not yet in final liquidation,” said Haroon Maher.

The company appointed to provisionally liquidate Nationwide Airlines will start taking details of passengers and creditors owed by the airline, it said on Wednesday.

“The office phone will be open for the whole weekend and I am going to open a register to get the details of passengers and creditors,” said Hannes Muller, an associate of Michelle du Plessis, who was appointed provisional liquidators.

He cautioned that no immediate action could be taken, but passengers and creditors could at least get their details on to a register.

“As soon as I get information I will send out a circular,” he explained.

On Tuesday passengers were stranded when the airline announced that it had ceased operations due to cash-flow problems and that a black economic empowerment deal (BEE), which it had hoped would bolster the company’s finances, fell through due to concerns raised in a due-diligence report.

The BEE partners who could have bailed out Nationwide would only have done so if the transaction was economically sustainable, they said on Wednesday.

African General Equity Group and the Industrial Development Corporation were committed to sustainable BEE in South Africa, the companies said in a statement.

“In terms of the Nationwide deal, concerns were raised around financial viability which was compromised by, amongst others, soaring fuel costs and decreasing passenger load factors,” they said.

Nationwide’s office phones were unanswered on Wednesday, calls to the cellphones of directors and CEO Vernon Bricknell were cut and the airline’s website only carried a statement issued on Tuesday explaining that it had ceased operating until further notice due to cash-flow problems.

Last year an engine fell off a Nationwide Boeing 737-200 on take-off for Johannesburg from Cape Town International Airport. The aircraft landed safely but on November 30, the South African Civil Aviation Authority grounded the airline on maintenance and airworthiness concerns. The airline resumed operations in December but fuel costs increased and seat sales were low.

Owing to the ceasing of Nationwide’s operations, travel passengers would have to buy new tickets on other airlines.

These airlines were trying to accommodate them, but because it was holiday season, there was a shortage of seats available.

The company applied for the provisional liquidation in the Johannesburg High Court on Tuesday, and this was granted, the company’s attorney, Maher said, adding that the provisional liquidation process would take six weeks.

“There is a possibility that the company can go out of liquidation in a way which is not prejudicial to employees and creditors,” he said.

The company would meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss what to do about passengers and refunds and hoped to make an announcement on Wednesday evening or on Thursday.

“We are busy working on that at the moment,” he said.

The provisional liquidator would also deal with staff matters.

Passengers and other people owed money by Nationwide could contact the provisional liquidator on 0861 874 926, the fax numbers 012 333 4672 or 086 618 9067, or by email to [email protected]

Inquiries should be marked for the attention of Michelle du Plessis or Alta van Wyk and should include a name, address and contact number and the nature of the claim — an airline ticket or for services rendered. — Sapa

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