South African Express (EXY, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) has been forced to suspend flight operations as of Wednesday, August 28, given an impasse with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) over ZAR70 million rand (USD4.58 million) worth of unpaid debts.

The state-owned carrier said in a statement that following the suspension of commercial flights on Wednesday morning, it engaged ACSA and, on the basis of that meeting, it assumed it would be able to resume flights later in the afternoon.

“A meeting was held on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, between ACSA and SA Express, facilitated by the Department of Transport (DoT) and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), in which a resolution was taken that the withdrawal of services by ACSA be lifted pursuant on SA Express meeting prescribed conditions," an SA Express spokesperson said.

“These conditions were subsequently met hence the SA Express communication that flights would be resumed on August 28, 2019, at 1600L. Disappointingly, ACSA subsequently reneged on the agreements reached, which caused further inconvenience to our passengers on all routes operated by the airline."

ACSA's board was due to review the matter on the morning of Thursday, August 29.

For its part, SA Express was locked in negotiations with the Department of Public Enterprises on Thursday over a ZAR200 million (USD13.08 million) bailout, Eye Witness News reported.

SA Express operated ten CRJ200s (of which two are active), two CRJ700s (inactive), and ten Dash 8-400s (of which four are active) on scheduled flights connecting Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, Cape Town International, Port Elizabeth, and Durban King Shaka with Hoedspruit Air Force Base, Kimberley, Bloemfontein domestically as well as Gaborone, Lubumbashi, and Walvis Bay internationally.