Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) confirmed it had suspended state-owned airline SA Express from landing and taking off from its runways as a result of non-payment of airport fees.
ACSA fed up with SA Express non-payment
ACSA said in a statement that confidentiality prevented it from disclosing exactly how much SA Express owed it.
However, its executives had been meeting with the airline’s executives to get them to settle for several months the outstanding payment for passenger service charges, landing, and parking fees.
The airline in a media release had accused ACSA of reneging on an agreement reached in a meeting earlier in the week for flights to resume.
ACSA disputed this, saying SA Express did not hold up to its end of the deal.
“Further undertakings were made during that engagement. Airports Company South Africa agreed to lift the suspension should these further undertakings be met,” ACSA said.
“Unfortunately, these conditions were not met and the suspension of SA Express remains in place.”
“Airports Company South Africa regrets that this decision became necessary to ensure fairness to all airlines.”
Airports Company South Africa
Struggling to keep afloat without government bailouts
The latest debacle involving the cash-strapped airline has led to renewed calls for SA Express to be closed down after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni reportedly refused another bailout.
The airline’s latest financial woes follow damning testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, which heard that millions were siphoned from SA Express for the benefit of senior ANC officials.
The testimony of Babadi Tlatsana, Owner of Koreneka Trading and Projects, implicated two government ministers in the alleged looting.
Her company was awarded the tender to operate ground-handling services for SA Express at two North West airports but claims her business was hijacked and used to launder money.
“The business was hijacked from me. The business was hijacked in the beginning because a lot of things were happening… I would not know, I would just see on the phone that money has gone,” she told the state capture inquiry.
On Thursday, evidence leader Advocate Kate Hofmeyr read an affidavit to the Zondo Commission submitted by Tlatsana’s attorney.
“He was advised by his client that out of fear for her safety after her testimony to this commission, she decided to remove herself from the territorial limits of the Republic of South Africa after having testified before the commission,” Hofmeyer said, according to Eye Witness News.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Naomi Mackay. Additional editing by Nick Krige