South African trade union Solidarity says it has suspended its bid to have South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) placed into Business Rescue after the carrier's leadership gave it a written undertaking that it would immediately begin the process of seeking out a strategic partner.

Given SAA's dire financial standing, the union had warned in April that it would seek to have the state-owned carrier placed into the South African equivalent of US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the only means of saving it.

However, in a statement issued on Tuesday, July 10, Solidarity said it had withdrawn its bid given SAA's chief executive Vuyana Jarana's pledge to immediately seek out a partner despite previous statements that this would only be done once the airline holding had been fully restructured.

“In view of SAA’s letter in which comprehensive undertakings are given, Solidarity has decided to suspend its application for business rescue for the time being. It is difficult to immediately proceed with litigation if the other party has conceded in writing to most of our demands,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said.

According to Hermann, Jarana said that in view of the pressure to fund SAA, the South African government, the SAA board and management had agreed to begin the search for a strategic partner immediately.

“We are not naïve – SAA’s written undertakings are sufficient to suspend the application. However, we are very sceptical about the implementation of these undertakings. We have confidence in Mr Jarana’s good intentions, and we will give him the benefit of the doubt for the present. However, we have less confidence in the shareholder’s political will to make radical decisions on private ownership of SAA," Hermann added.

Should SAA fail to honour its undertakings, and should its predicament worsen, Hermann said Solidarity would immediately proceed with the application for business rescue.

The union claims that among those that have advised it on its case include former Mango Airlines (JE, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) and interim SAA CEO Nico Bezuidenhout (now CEO of Fastjet (FN, Dar-es-Salaam)) as well as Monwabisi Kalawe, another former CEO of SAA.