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Mango suspends new ticket sales ‘just to be safe’

Mango Airlines, the low-cost subsidiary of SAA, has shut down its ticketing system as it awaits confirmation on whether it will have to suspend flights starting this weekend. 

This is after passengers were left stranded on Wednesday due to outstanding payments to the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa). Later on Wednesday, Acsa announced that it had lifted the suspension on Mango flights after the partial payment of its debt.

Mango spokesperson Benediction Zubane told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday morning that the airline was still waiting to hear if flights would be able to continue in May. According to reports, Mango may be grounded from next month until July, pending government funding.

The airline is set to meet with the department of public enterprises today to hear its fate and will likely update the public later on Thursday or Friday, Zubane said.

But “just to be safe”, Mango is not issuing any new tickets, he added. 

Mango, like SAA, is in the throes of a liquidity crisis and may have to be put under business rescue until July. SAA has been in business rescue since December 2019.

Zubane said he could not disclose exactly how much Mango owes to its creditors, but said the amount was substantial. “It’s huge. I can’t disclose that, but it is big.”

Last month business-rescue practitioners for SAA updated parliament’s standing committee on public accounts

The loss-making national carrier was allocated a R10.5-billion government bailout last year, and by 12 February this year it had received the third tranche of the bailout. This means SAA has already received R7.8-billion of the R10.5-billion.

R2.7-billion of the bailout has been allocated to the recapitalisation of SAA’s subsidiaries, including Mango, aircraft maintenance service SAA Technical, and in-flight catering service Air Chefs. But at the time, business rescuers had yet to receive any of the R2.7-billion. They were advised by the department of public enterprises that the balance of funds would be made available for the subsidiaries when certain government processes had been resolved.

At the March meeting, business-rescue practitioner Siviwe Dongwana said he could not  answer questions regarding Mango’s liabilities and the amount needed for the SAA subsidiaries to remain operational.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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