Optimism is growing that the planned ZAR326 million rand (USD17.25 million) sale of Mango Airlines (MNO, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) will finally go ahead pending the retirement at the end of May from politics of South African Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is opposed to the transaction.

This is according to Sipho Sono, the business rescue practitioner overseeing the stricken low-cost subsidiary of South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo). He told ch-aviation that a new minister may have a different view.

Sono confirmed that he has agreed to hold back on signing the Sale of Shares agreement with South African investor Ubuntu Air Services until April 5, by which time he anticipates the South African Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) will have decided whether or not to condone the Department of Public Enterprises' (DPE) late filing of a petition to stop the sale. While the SCA is expected to decide by March 28, the DPE will re-enrol its petition to be heard in urgent court the week of April 2, 2024.

"At the moment, we are focusing on the possible ruling by the SCA, which is likely to be done before his (Gordhan's) departure. So his regiment might not have any effect. Of course, if the legal process is delayed and a new minister is appointed, then his departure could make a difference as a new minister could have a different view," Sono said.

As reported, Sono resorted to legal action against Gordhan for dragging out a decision on Ubuntu Air Services' bid and thereby unnecessarily putting at risk the rescue of the provisionally-liquidated state carrier.

Gordhan has questioned the corporate structure of the bidder; the due diligence performed on the company; the late timing of the bid; and its business plan.

Ubuntu Air Services is a consortium led by AfricaStay, a wholesale tour operating division of Johannesburg-based Silver Peach Marketing, certain unspecified former Mango executives, and financial service provider DG Capital.