South African Airways has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SunExpress (a joint venture of Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines), to support the national carrier’s operations with four aircraft in the 2024/2025 financial year. These Aircraft will be crewed and maintained by foreigners which add no value to South Africa other than benefiting SAA, at massive expense to the SA Taxpayer.
SAA’s annual financial statements for the past four years have finally been revealed, painting a dismal picture of the airline. The statements were presented after this agreement was announced by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan who sent a letter to the speakers of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) confirming that he could finally table them. The reports show that over the four years, SAA incurred a combined R23.5 billion in losses. This revelation contradicts the statement made by Prof Lamola at the beginning of December, "The management and the Board that has been installed since SAA emerged out of business rescue and started operations late 2021, would disprove any claim that financial position of SAA is currently at a breaking point, and the airline’s sustainability is questionable."
The MoU is an add-on to the current six-month damp lease agreement, which was started in October this year and includes the lease of two Boeing 737-800s as well as maintenance and cockpit crew. The MoU was signed by SunExpress CEO Max Kownatzki and SAA CEO Prof. John Lamola at a joint press event in Johannesburg, on Thursday, 14th December 2023.
In addition to plans to increase the number of damp lease aircraft, SAA and SunExpress are currently exploring options for a multi-year reciprocal capacity support and further cooperation concerning maintenance, training and commercial support.
"The memorandum of understanding underlines our commitment to further deepen our successful partnership with SAA. We are proud of the trust that SAA is placing in us with the renewed intention to collaborate. We strive to build on this to develop a strong, long-term partnership and leverage more opportunities together in the future”, said Max Kownatzki, CEO of SunExpress. “Over the next decade, SunExpress will more than double its fleet, reaching a 150-aircraft fleet by 2033. This kind of partnership enables us to efficiently utilize our fleet, mitigating the impact of our seasonality, ” added Kownatzki.
Prof. John Lamola, CEO of SAA, welcomed the continued cooperation: "SunExpress has proven to be an extremely reliable partner for us in the first few months. We are therefore delighted that this valuable partnership will not only be continued but the scope of the partnership expanded to include additional aircraft for our 2024 holiday peak season. The additional aircraft will support our operations to meet the growing customer demand during peak seasons and mitigate our management of the global aircraft availability crisis.”