Johannesburg | Efforts to raise funds to save SA Express have commenced. A consortium of former employees of SA Express, Fly SAX and Chris Hart,the executive chair of venture capital firm Global Impact Investments have initiated fundraising efforts to try and save the state-owned regional airline SA Express (SAX).
SA Express was placed in provisional liquidation in April 2020, after its business rescue process failed. The airline’s return date for a liquidation application has been delayed to July 4th this year. The return date for a liquidation application was first pushed back to January 11 this year in July last year because two unions were filing an application in the Constitutional Court to try to save the airline at the time.The National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association wanted the Constitutional Court to compel the National Assembly to debate whether SA Express should be permitted to go insolvent. However, the Constitutional Court ruled that it can not hear the unions’ application because the matter is not within its jurisdiction and mandate to hear directly.
Chris Hart, who has taken the lead in rescuing the airline, says he has been asked by Fly SAX to assist in the facilitation of investments based on a more targeted crowd-funding approach.. This comes after Fly SAX, the preferred bidder for the airline, struggled to raise funds through crowdfunding platforms. Chris Hart has pledged to help Fly SAX save the airline and make it commercially viable.
“This is a very high impact project, both on a micro and macro economic level, with enormous potential multipliers – especially for outlying areas in SA to be connected and integrated to regional economies,” says Hart. “We are looking at a comprehensive approach from both a passenger and cargo point of view and do not intend to compete on already well-serviced routes like that between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
According to Hart, the airline will operate entirely as a for-profit enterprise, with no ties to the government. Commenting on the Zondo commission’s report on the negative impact of state capture on SA Express, Hart says that such situations will no longer be an issue for the airline, as many reforms have been implemented.
“That was then, but this is now, and all members of the rescue team are confident that if it can be efficiently, safely, and ethically run, this vital element of SA’s transport infrastructure can be saved – and it will fly again,” says Hart.