Mango Airlines (MNO, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) has been grounded for another two years because South Africa's Air Services Licensing Council has suspended its licenses for the same period, effective immediately, on regulatory grounds.

The move calls into question the current investor process, under which terms an unnamed consortium has been given until August 10 to present a bank guarantee in favour of Mango for an undisclosed purchase offer.

Following a meeting with Mango administrator Sipho Sono on August 3, Air Services Licensing Council Chairman Musa Nsibande penned a letter to him on the same day, informing him that Mango's licenses - Number S890D and Number N891D – had been suspended for two years, effective immediately, as Mango had not operated the licensed air services for an uninterrupted period exceeding 12 months. In so doing, Mango had failed to comply with Section 20(1) of the Air Services Licensing Act. No. 115 of 1990, which warranted the suspension and/or cancellation of its existing licences, he said.

Sono told Fin24 the Licensing Council was effectively shutting down Mango while it was close to finalising a rescue deal. He would consider the council's decision carefully before deciding the way forward. "All I can say is that it is a very strange decision that does not consider the lack of competition in the domestic aviation market, with ticket prices going through the roof. The decision was communicated to me late on Friday, so I still need to consider it carefully and decide on the next steps. The Department of Public Enterprises indicated in the past that Mango could not resume operations until it secured an investor. Now, when it is close to finalising the deal, the Department of Transport decides to shut Mango down," he said.

Mango has been in voluntary business rescue since July 28, 2021. It has been mothballed until an investor is found after its sole shareholder, South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo), decided to divest from the subsidiary.

The Air Service Licensing Council and the International Air Services Council are statutory bodies of the Department of Transport responsible for administering South Africa's Air Services Licensing Act. The councils are responsible for licensing, controlling, and monitoring commercial air services to ensure they function in line with the law.