Lynne Brown. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Lynne Brown. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown does not plan to replace the departed CEO of South African Express, Inati Ntshanga, until the review of the state’s aviation assets is done.

Ntshanga, who had been at the helm of SA Express since September 2010, left the unprofitable regional airline at the end of March after a sharp deterioration in its finances. This was done with the agreement of the SA Express board.

Brown told MPs during an earlier briefing of the portfolio committee on public enterprises that she was looking into the leadership of the airline.

She said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by DA MP Dean Macpherson that the consolidation of SA Express and South African Airways (SAA) and the introduction of a strategic equity partner would be considered.

The consolidation is likely to include SAA subsidiary Mango.

Corporate advisers Bain & Company are assisting the government with a review of the state’s aviation assets. Brown said the goal was to develop "a stronger, more efficient and sustainable state aviation sector".

Brown told MPs in February that SA Express needed R121m in working capital and a further extension of its state guarantee. She revealed that it had experienced a cash crunch in February when it was unable to repay loans and faced profitability and liquidity challenges.

The airline has also struggled to convince the auditor-general of its status as a going concern, the same problem it experienced in 2016.

SA Express depends on a R1bn state guarantee as a lifeline. In 2014-15, it posted a net loss of R132m and at the end of March 2015 liabilities exceeded assets by R126m.

Brown also noted that Alexkor and Denel both had vacancies for CEO and chief financial officer and Eskom and Safcol vacancies for CEO.

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