Business Rescue Practitioners (BRP) Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana have applied for a further extension to the deadline by which South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) must present an acceptable turnaround plan. The bankrupt carrier has already been granted two deferrals - to February 28 and then to March 31, 2020, given the increasingly challenging and complex operating conditions it finds itself in.

In a letter to creditors on March 20, the BRPs sought to have the deadline extended to May 29 citing the impact the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has had on the global travel industry as well as protracted consultations with labour unions over proposed job cuts.

"The impact of Covid-19 will not only accentuate the need for urgent cost-cutting measures to be considered, such as possible lay-offs and the introduction of short-time, it may also adversely impact upon the current section 189A restructuring process and will be a matter for further consultation with representative trade unions and other representatives," the BRPs said. "It is quite clear that SAA will experience difficulties in completing the plan without having substantially concluded the Section 189 Process with the consulting parties."

Once finalised, the draft plan will then be given to the SAA creditors' committee, the employees' committee, and the shareholder - the South African Government - before publication.

SAA's financial standing will deteriorate even more rapidly after it was, last week, forced to suspend all regional African and international flights as a result of the downturn in global demand as well as tightened immigration restrictions.

As previously reported, flights to Accra (Ghana), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare Int'l (Zimbabwe), Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Windhoek Int'l (Namibia), Lagos (Nigeria), and Entebbe/Kampala (Uganda) were suspended as of March 20 until May 31, 2020. Mauritius ended on March 21. Flights to the United States (Washington Dulles and New York JFK), the United Kingdom (London Heathrow) and Germany (Frankfurt Int'l and Munich) have also been suspended until the end of May. SAA's flights to Australia (Perth Int'l) and Brazil (Sao Paulo Guarulhos) which, although not high-risk, have all now been cancelled.

The suspension of all flights abroad has turned SAA into a domestic carrier plying multiple daily Johannesburg O.R. Tambo to Cape Town return shuttles.