S. African president urged to intervene in efforts to stabilize national carrier

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-29 22:46:08|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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CAPE TOWN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's Parliament on Friday urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in efforts to stabilize the embattled South African Airways (SAA), the country's national carrier.

"As the peak Christmas season approaches, a speedy response is needed to assure the country and the world that South Africa is still a destination of choice and its national carrier can and will continue to provide services," Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Tourism said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

This came after Flight Center, the country's largest travel agency, discontinued selling airline tickets or packages for SAA.

This is due to the airline's financial instability and the risks involved, as Flight Center's preferred travel insurance provider decided not to cover SAA under its insolvency benefit, due to the reported doubts over SAA's long-term viability.

Flight Center also claims that the government is sending "mixed signals" about the possibility of a bailout to the cash-strapped airline.

Flight Center's decision has raised concern, as the airline is still recovering from a week-long strike that took place earlier this month, which has cost the country millions of dollars and has had an impact on tourism, said Supra Mahumapelo, chairperson of the committee.

A task team of ministers is required to deal with the situation, with the president's intervention, Mahumapelo said.

Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane should lead the efforts and take the responsibility to ensure that the president get involved, Mahumapelo said.

SAA has been in financial trouble for long due to poor management. Over the past 13 years, the flag carrier has incurred over 28 billion rand (about 1.9 billion U.S. dollars) in cumulative losses.

The airline's request for a further bailout was dealt a heavy blow recently after the government said it would not extend further support to state-owned entities.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced last month that any further bailout will be in the form of loans that will have to be repaid with interest.