SA Express. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES/BRIAN BAHR
SA Express. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES/BRIAN BAHR

Cash-strapped South African Express is facing an application for liquidation because it cannot pay its debts.

The application against the state-owned airline has been brought in the high court by aircraft leasing company Solenta Aviation on the basis of the nonpayment of R87.3m and will be heard on August 11 if it is not opposed. South African Express acting CEO Victor Xaba said the airline did intend to oppose the application because of a dispute over the amount owed.

He said the airline was engaging with legal counsel and Solenta to find an amicable solution and gave the assurance to creditors, customers and stakeholders that South African Express was not in distress and was able to pay its debts.

The application for liquidation comes hot on the heels of South African Airways’ inability to repay a R2.3bn loan to Standard Chartered Bank, which required the Treasury to step in with a cash injection.

South African Express also experienced a cash crunch in February when it was unable to repay bank loans of R150m, and it was only through government intervention that agreement was reached on a repayment plan.

The airline has been in financial trouble for several years and made an unaudited loss of R234m loss in 2016-17.

Solenta Aviation director of flight operations Stephen Jolly said in his affidavit that South African Express owed the company R87.3m for the lease of aircraft and other services provided between October 2016 and June 2017.

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