South African Express (XZ, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) has announced it will resume commercial flight operations later this week.

Interim Chief Executive Officer, Siza Mzimela, said in a communique that, aside from the reinstatement of its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC), SA Express had now secured Certificates of Airworthiness for "most" of its 11 initial aircraft, with the remaining ten expected to be given the green light soon.

“We are delighted that we have now satisfied the concerns that the regulator had leading to our temporary grounding at the end of May this year. This has paved the way for us to prudently and incrementally reintroduce our flights as from Thursday, August 23, 2018,” she said.

SA Express has experienced significant financial challenges since 2011/12 resulting in its current poor financial performance and position. According to the South African Department of Public Enterprises, the state-owned carrier's projected loss for the 2017/18 financial year is ZAR189 million rand (USD12.9 million). As of December 31, 2017, its net equity position stood at negative ZAR71 million, thus requiring the South African government to provide it with guarantees of ZAR1.74 billion (USD120 million).

Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, told a parliamentary committee on public enterprises on Wednesday last week that despite the state-backed financing, the airline still faces liquidity challenges and still struggles to pay staff salaries and procure parts.

SA Express has yet to reveal its planned operational network and its return to service is expected to be an uphill battle given rival carriers South African Airways, Airlink (South Africa), Mango Airlines, and CemAir have already moved to fill in market gaps left by its absence.

Last week, CemAir CEO Miles van der Molen told Tourism Update that despite SA Express's return to service, he did not believe its management had adequately addressed the systemic problems that had led to its grounding in the first place.

“I don’t believe that SA Express has truly addressed its structural challenges, which involve solvency and cash issues," he said. "As a result, I am sure it will need to rationalise its routes to remain viable. The unstable market conditions will make it possible for other airlines to absorb market share.”

SA Express had operated an extensive domestic South African network, plying main trunk routes between Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, Cape Town, Durban King Shaka, and Port Elizabeth as well as thinner Tier II and III cities and towns such as George, Kimberley, Richards Bay, Mmabatho, Sun City, and East London. It also ran regional African services to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.