The Takatso Consortium, the announced preferred strategic equity partner of South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo), has made it clear that it is not yet involved in the management, funding, or relaunch of the airline, which started flying again today (September 23, 2021) after a protracted business rescue process.

The consortium says it is still negotiating with the government around the share purchase agreement for 51% of SAA, which is subject to various approvals and pre-conditions. “Our focus now is on concluding the share purchase agreement. It’s a large and complex transaction and we anticipate that it will take some time, but there is strong commitment from both parties to ensuring the agreement is finalised,” Takatso chief executive officer Gidon Novick explained in a statement.

However, with the deal not yet concluded, SAA does not yet have access to the ZAR3 billion rand (USD203.5 million) that Takatso is supposed to inject over the next three years for the airline's operating costs.

Instead, SAA will be using ZAR500 million (USD33.8 million) working capital ring-fenced by its previous administrators for its restart. The money forms part of the ZAR10.5 billion (USD712.3 million) bailout from the state that is to cover the airline's legacy debts. Of this amount, SAA is also sharing ZAR2.7 billion (USD183 million) with its cash-strapped subsidiaries, one of which, low-cost Mango Airlines (JE, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo), entered into voluntary administration on July 28, 2021, having been excluded from the parent company's business rescue process.

“The relaunch of the airline is separate to the engagement between Takatso and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) to acquire a 51% stake in SAA. We have progressed the due diligence process of SAA, which is now substantially complete, and no material issues have been identified,” Novick explained.

Takatso is a joint venture between Johannesburg asset fund manager Harith General Partners, the majority shareholder in the SAA transaction and ACMI specialist Global Aviation Operations (GE, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo), the minority shareholders in the venture, which also owns the Lift Airlines brand.

As reported previously, SAA resumes commercial passenger operations on one domestic and five regional routes (Accra, Kinshasa N'Djili, Lusaka, Harare Int'l, and Maputo), having exited bankruptcy protection on April 30, 2021. It is using three A319-100s leased from Castlelake; one A330-300 leased from Aero Capital Solutions, and two A330-200s leased from Goshawk.

Its first flight, SA 317, an A320-200 ZS-SZJ (msn 6478), departed Johannesburg O.R. Tambo at 08:17L (06:17Z) and was due to arrive in Cape Town at 10:19L (08:29Z), Flightradar24 ADS-B data showed.