The DA has reiterated its view that struggling state owned airline SAA should be placed under business rescue.

This followed the statement by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni that he believed SAA should be closed down.

Mboweni expressed what DA deputy finance spokesman Alf Lees described as his “refreshing views” on the airline during an address to an investor conference in New York Thursday.

“Mboweni’s refreshing views on SAA are in sharp contrast to the repeated mantra by the ANC in Parliament that maintains that the state carrier is a developmental tool that cannot be done away with and which will never be privatised,” Lees said.

“The DA has long expressed the view that SAA should not be kept alive through taxpayer bailouts and that if it is to survive it must do so on its own and be privatised. The first step towards saving SAA and the approximately 10 300 jobs must be to put SAA into business rescue. If business rescue fails there will be no other option but to liquidate SAA,” he added.

Lees said there should be no further bailouts for SAA and that the R5bn allocated to the airline in the medium term budget policy statement should be rejected by Parliament. “The DA will oppose the Special Appropriation Bill and will do everything in its power to prevent another massive bailout to another dysfunctional SOE,” he said.

SAA, Lees noted continued to be a huge drain on the fiscus. It had recorded losses of R5.6 billion in 2014/15, R1.4 billion in 2015/16, R5.5 billion in 2016/17 and R 5.7 billion in 2017/18, and is running at a loss in 2018/19, The airline has projected further losses until it breaks even in  the 2020/21 financial year. It has received R10bn in bailouts over the last two financial years and relies on a R19bn guarantee from the state to keep operating.