SAA rescue team granted another extension
The business rescue practitioners for SAA, whose final plan was due on Monday, have been granted yet another extension on the basis of a request by two of the biggest trade unions at the company.
Creditors had until the close of business on Monday to approve or refuse the request, which is the fifth extension that practitioners Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana have requested.
The creditors have now given the business rescue practitioners until June 15 to submit a final plan.
SAA entered business rescue on December 5 but the final report has been delayed by a range of issues, including uncertainty about finance and a disagreement between the practitioners and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, who has opposed their plan to wind down the company.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) asked for the extension after refusing to attend a meeting last week with Matuson and Dongwana where the plan was to be discussed.
Over the past week, a draft business plan was circulated to affected parties, including the department of public enterprises, employees and creditors. But the two unions said that rather than engage with the practitioners directly, they preferred to engage over the plan in the SAA leadership forum, a body established by Gordhan to consider an alternative plan to save the airline.
In a letter to creditors on Monday, Matuson and Dongwana said: “The practitioners have been consulting on the business rescue draft plan with various stakeholders and to this end have had meaningful engagements with the creditors’ committee on various aspects of the draft plan that was distributed to the creditors’ and employees’ committees.”
However, the employees’ committee members decided that they would not want to consult on the draft plan in that forum but rather through the leadership compact forum that was set up by the department of public enterprises. This consultation has not occurred, they said.
It was on these grounds that the extension was requested.
“The practitioners thought it would not be appropriate to proceed with the publication of the business rescue plan without conveying the request of the unions that represent a majority of the SAA employees”.