Five South African trade unions have agreed to accept new employment terms and headcount numbers included in a revised turnaround plan for South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo).

Ahead of a crunch creditors' meeting on Tuesday next week, Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana revised a previous version of the plan wherein 1,000 staff will now be retained. At the same time, a further 1,000 will be placed on a Temporary/Training Lay-Off scheme for 12 months. SAA will contribute a maximum of ZAR4,650 (USD274) per month towards each employee's pension, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), and company medical aid for those staff placed on Temporary/Training Lay-Off. The carrier will also offer voluntary redundancy packages to staff.

The overall total cost of voluntary retrenchments, 2,700 compulsory retrenchments, and contributions to pension, UIF, and medical aid in respect of employees placed on Temporary/Training Lay-Off will be up to a maximum of ZAR2.2 billion (USD129.6 million).

In terms of actual packages, pilots will be offered severance pay of ZAR1.96 million (USD115,500) each while cabin crew will get ZAR352,588 (USD20,800). Management and other white-collar staff will get between ZAR379,245 (USD22,344) and ZAR477,192 (USD28,115).

According to SAA's parent line ministry, the Department of Public Enterprises, unions that have accepted the offer include the National Transport Movement (NTM), the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (AUSA), Solidarity, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the South African Airways Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), and representatives of non-unionised SAA managers and ground staff.

At least 75% of creditors must consent to the plan during the upcoming vote, due to be held on July 14.

Under its proposed plan, a restructured SAA will resume flights later this year with a fleet of just six narrowbody aircraft. With that in mind, following the 17 that have already been returned to lessors, so 14 more aircraft are due to leave the fleet in the coming days. Airline sources told Aviation Central that two A350-900s and an A330-200 will all head to Spain on July 10 followed by six A320-200s which will all leave for Slovenia (three), France (two), and Estonia (one) on July 14. On July 15, five A330-300s will leave for France (three), the Netherlands (one), and another unknown destination.

This will leave SAA with only nine aircraft; three A319-100s, four A320-200s, and two A350-900s.