In his presentation to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises on Wednesday, the minister said the first step to the merger has already been taken as SA Express continued to face liquidity and solvency challenges.
“The first step of consolidating SA Express with SAA has just been concluded, which was to place both airlines within one Shareholder Ministry. SAA has therefore been transferred back to the ministry,” he said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month transferred the administration of the South African Airways Act and accompanying functions from the Minister of Finance back to the Minister of Public Enterprises.
The president signed the transfer on 25 July and gazetted it on 1 August. In December 2014, government announced the move of SAA from the Ministry of Public Enterprises to National Treasury.
In his House update, Gordhan said the boards and executive leadership of both airlines have been tasked with identifying quick wins to stabilise the two State-owned airlines.
These quick wins include technical, fuel and route rationalisation, he said, adding that the SA Express board was expected to submit a bankable business model for commercial recovery and long-term sustainability.
At a media briefing in May, Gordhan had said government wanted to merge national carrier SAA with SA Express and Mango, as the three airlines fly to the same destinations.