In a move that’s likely to put it into conflict with trade unions, SAA, the state-owned airline that is relying on  government bailouts to stay afloat, is starting a restructuring process that may cut its 5,146-strong workforce by almost a fifth.

The airline, which received a R9.2bn lifeline in finance minister Tito Mboweni's medium-term budget policy statement in October to help it settle debts that it isn't able to roll over because banks won’t lend to it, has started a consultation process with employees in line with section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, acting CEO Zuks Ramasia said in a statement on Monday.

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