The High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, has dismissed with costs Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s request for permission to appeal a September 6 order that had forced him to make a decision within 30 days regarding a ZAR326 million rand (USD17.25 million) binding offer for Mango Airlines (MNO, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) from South African consortium Ubuntu Air Services.

The state-owned budget carrier and South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) subsidiary is in business rescue and the binding offer for it from Ubuntu emerged ten months ago. On September 6, the high court gave the ministry 30 days to approve or reject the bid, ruling that Gordhan’s 10-month delay in deciding the matter was unreasonable and unconstitutional. The ministry’s appeal, which put the implementation of the court order on hold, has now been struck down.

Mango, its business rescue practitioner Sipho Sono, and Numsa, South Africa’s biggest trade union, had all opposed the ministry’s attempt to appeal. If the attempt to sell Mango fails, Sono is likely to have to wind down the company.

The judge commented in the ruling that he had “carefully considered the helpful and well-prepared written and oral submissions of the parties, the judgment of the court a quo, all the evidence that was presented before it, and the bar for leave to appeal.” Consequently, he was persuaded that the respondents, which included the ministers of public enterprises and finance as well as South African Airways, “have failed to meet the requisite threshold for leave to appeal to be granted because the appeal would not have reasonable prospects of success in a substantive application.”

Asked for comment, Sono told ch-aviation: “The judgment speaks for itself. The minister’s grounds for appeal have been roundly dismissed by the court. As it was on September 6, he must make a decision. It boggles the mind why can’t he just make a negative decision if he feels so strongly about the alleged 'incomplete' application.”

Gordhan has said in the past that he wants to see the business case of Ubuntu Air Services before making a decision, but Sono is concerned about sharing such information as a rescued Mango would go on to compete independently with South African Airways.