FlySAX has submitted a revised offer to acquire South African Express (EXY, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo), this time seeking to raise up to ZAR150 million rand (USD10.4 million) in working capital through crowd-funding to save the airline from being liquidated on July 29, 2021.

A Special Purpose Vehicle comprising former employees of SA Express, FlySAX’s previous bid to buy the airline failed following the withdrawal last month of its anchoring investor, Johannesburg investment firm Strategic Investment Group Africa (SIGA).

FlySAX spokesperson Thabasile Sikakane said the entity had asked permission from SA Express administrator, Aviwe Ndyamara, for FlySAX to use crowdfunding to raise working capital to save the airline. This would be done through the Johannesburg-based crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa, run by Tabz Qadir, the former co-chairperson of defunct low-cost carrier, SkyWise (Johannesburg O.R. Tambo).

“The liquidator has not responded to our request. FlySAX has 60 days to save SA Express and time is running out fast,” she said. “The liquidator needs to demonstrate adaptability to acknowledge new models for restructuring transactions through alternative funding models. The FlySAX transaction provides an outside-the-box solution but needs the liquidator's ability to understand the creative solution (being) proposed.”

Crowdfunding had always been one of the ways FlySAX had intended to raise capital, she said. An original estimate of ZAR250 million (USD17.3 million) had been reduced by ZAR100 million (USD7 million) in light of post-COVID-19 market realities, she told ch-aviation. “We have reduced it because we would be starting on a smaller scale. We are working on a revised financial model, looking at raising ZAR100 million to ZAR150 million,” she added.

Ndyamara was not immediately available for comment.

For the fifth time running, the airline’s final liquidation court date was postponed on April 29 for another three months, this time on the request of trade unions, who want to take the matter to the country’s Constitutional Court and National Assembly.

The airline’s only remaining material assets comprises office furniture, ch-aviation was told. The rest was auctioned off for ZAR24.7 million (USD1.6 million) and its licenses and Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) have expired. Its 800 employees were sacked after the airline went into provisional liquidation in April 2020 after it had been in bankruptcy protection since February 2020.

However, Sikakane remained adamant the airline was worth saving: “It’s all about the brand. It’s what made us fall in love with aviation. It would definitely be cheaper for us to start a new airline, however, it’s the brand that we are so attached to”.

She said FlySAX would still want to re-acquire some of the DHC-8-Q400s previously leased by South African Express from Rand Merchant Bank. “It would make sense as our technicians are trained and qualified to work on those aircraft,” she said.