Three months after its air operator certificate (AOC) and aircraft maintenance organization (AMO) got suspended by the South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), South African Express is about to take to the skies again – but with very limited operations.

On May 24, 2018, the SACAA announced in an official statement it ran an inspection of SA Express operations and found 17 cases of non-compliance with safety legislation, five of which are described as “severe non-compliance or non-conformance that poses a very serious safety or security risk”.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced on August 15, 2018, in an address to the Parliament's Oversight Committee on Governance on the challenges facing State Owned Enterprises that SA Express would resume operations by next week, operating two routes with less than half - nine - of the 22 aircraft composing its fleet.

The airline has also been struggling to remain financially efficient. Following the suspension, Gordhan announced that steps were being taken to merge SA Express with two other struggling airlines - Mango and South African Airways. “Bringing the airlines together and rationalising their routes and rationalising the kind of aircraft needed at a particular time of day – that is the experience we are beginning to learn from different airlines across the world,” he commented.

The minister announced that the final plan of the merger should be ready within the next two months. However, the task might be harder than anticipated. “There's been a high level of corruption, dubious contracts that have been signed in terms of fuel, baggage, acquisition of parts,” said Gordhan. “And it involves both officials in SA Express with the private sector as well.” It might take several months before the merged airlines find a sustainable business plan that would allow them to stay airborne in the long-term.