South African Airways (SAA) aims to resume flights in July or August, but the restart date will depend on how the Covid-19 pandemic progresses and whether the airline can resolve a pilot dispute, its chief executive said on Friday.
A South African Airways aircraft is seen at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo
State-owned SAA, which was put into administration in December 2019, has not flown commercially since September, when its administrators mothballed all operations pending funding for a restructuring.
The airline exited administration in late April after receiving R7.8bn ($550m) from the government, but at the time it did not say when it would take to the skies again.
"As a draft or as a proposal we are looking at July-August 2021," SAA's chief executive, Thomas Kgokolo said during a presentation to a parliamentary committee.
"However these dates come with some complexities, the issue of the Covid-19 is something that we still need to consider... and there is a complex matter that we are dealing with of pilots as well," he added.
Kgokolo said SAA would meet again with its pilots on Friday to try to find a solution to a disagreement over outstanding salaries and layoff terms.
The airline has been trying to reach a settlement with the pilots for months.
SAA is one of a handful of South African state companies reliant on government bailouts, placing the country's budget under strain at a time of rapidly rising debt.