Pravin Gordhan. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Pravin Gordhan. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

Talks are under way with the Treasury for an injection of cash into state-owned airline South African Express for operational purposes, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday.

The airline is haemorrhaging cash and has warned that it will not be able to pay suppliers if it does not receive funds from the state within the next month.

Gordhan has appointed an intervention team to strengthen the capacity of SA Express.

He said the intervention team had already uncovered a R5.7m payment by SA Express to Trillian for advisory services and the raising of capital without proper procedures having been followed. No capital had ever been raised.

The team had also uncovered a dodgy fuel supply contract — which has now been cancelled — for R67m a month without due process having been followed.

Gordhan said these two instances had been uncovered in the last four days and he believed that further such cases would be uncovered.

During a media briefing at which he announced the appointment of new board members for a number of SOEs, he said that many SOEs were going to require legitimate cash for operational purposes.

Gordhan was confident that with the right boards and effective management teams, many of these entities including SA Express could pull themselves out of their difficulties, which were largely due to their focusing on malfeasance rather than striving for success.

In the long term, the achievement of synergies between South African Airlines, SA Express and Mango — including the rationalisation of routes and aircraft — would assist in making them viable, Gordhan said.