Ethiopian Airlines Group offers the operational assistance for South African Airways (SAA) as part of a joint venture with the government of South Africa.
Speaking to local media on October 4, 2020, Tewolde GebreMariam, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said that the airline could provide its pilots, aircraft and maintenance services for struggling SAA.
According to GebreMariam, Ethiopian is able to provide some of its Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft which are more modern than SAA’s Airbus A340s.
However, due to possible asperities in managing SAA’s restructuring process and financial outlay ties, Ethiopian Airlines has shown no intention in dealing with legacy issues such as SAA’s debt repayment or employee reduction process.
All operations of the state-owned airline were suspended on September 29, 2020, after previous attempts to restructure the carrier met with opposition from both the government and trade unions. For the implementation of SAA’s resuscitation plan, ticket refunds and severance packages payout for 4,000 employees, the government of South Africa still needs more than $591 million.
The SAA filed for liquidation and bankruptcy protection in December 2019, after 8 years of continuous losses.