Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) confirmed in a media statement yesterday (April 28) that it had lifted the suspension it had slammed on Mango Airlines yesterday morning, preventing the carrier from using its airports, due to ‘outstanding debt’.
According to the statement, it lifted the suspension on Mango Airlines during the day as negotiations were entered into between the two state-owned entities. Acsa then reported that Mango made part payment of the amount owed to Acsa for landing fees, parking fees and passenger service charges. It further says the airline has made undertakings to settle the remaining debt.
Acsa says its approach with Mango is consistent with its approach to other airlines.
The airline may not be airborne for very long. Unpaid leases are still threatening to ground the airline from May 1.
A trade notification distributed last week by Mango’s Acting CEO William Ndlovu, said the lessors were demanding that the airline ground its aircraft on May 1 until such time that it had the funds to pay them. In the notification, he added that the government had promised to pay funds to Mango in January 2021 but had now advised it that the funds would only be paid across to the airline in June.
“This means that Mango will not be able to operate from May 1 due to no aircraft being available for operations,” said Ndlovu.
He added that, without the promised funding, the Mango and SAA boards had approved a proposal that the airline temporarily stop operating and be placed into business rescue until July. At the time of the notification, he said the airline was waiting to hear back from the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) – the ultimate shareholder of the airline – about this proposal.
The suspension of all Mango’s flights three days earlier than expected, relates to unpaid Acsa bills, according to Mango HOD: marketing and communications, Benediction Zubane.
“The Minister of Transport, Acsa and the DPE are currently engaging about the matter in order to find a solution which we hope will allow us to resume flights before the end of the day,” he said.
He added that Mango had still not had a response from the DPE about the airline’s proposal to move into business rescue and temporarily stop operating on May 1. He said further communication relating to how passengers would be affected from May 1 onwards, all hinged on the DPE’s response.
When asked about the number of passengers who would be affected by the suspension of flights, Benediction said the airline had been operating with load factors of over 90% on all its routes and had a strong pipeline of forward bookings confirmed for the next few months. It was his hope that funding could be obtained earlier than June to allow the airline to continue to assist its passengers.