South African Airways To Relaunch With 51% Private Ownership

On Friday morning, the South African government announced it had found a new private equity partner for South African Airways. When the airline takes to the skies again, it will be 51% controlled by the Takatso Consortium, which says its goal is to turn SAA into an iconic South African brand and a world-class pan-African airline.

South African A350
SAA has a new private majority owner in Takatso Consortium. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Consortium of two entities now holds 51%

The fate of South African Airways has long been hanging in the balance. Currently nine months into suspended operations, the airline is aiming to restart flights before September this year. This, of course, given that situations arising from the pandemic, as well as an ongoing dispute with the carrier’s pilots, allow. When it does resume operations, it will be with a new majority stakeholder.

A year and a half after being placed under administration, the airline now has a new private equity partner. Earlier today, the South African government revealed it had sold a majority stake in the carrier to the Takatso Consortium. The company will own 51% of South African Airways, while the government will retain 49%.

“The strategic equity partner is known as Takatso, which is a consortium, and the word Takatso in Sotho means aspire. And this consortium is 51% black-owned. It brings together two very resourceful entities, Harith, which is a funder and interest structure investor and an airport owner and a global airway which has sufficient and interesting experience in the airline industry,” Public enterprise minister Pravin Gordhan said Friday morning as reported by the Times Live.

SAA bailout package
The government will retain 49% of the airline. Photo: Airbus

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Airport owner and wet lease specialists

Takatso Consortium consists of Harith General Partners, one of the largest investors in African infrastructure, and the aviation group Global Aviation, specializing in aircraft wet lease operations.

In a statement issued after the announcement, the consortium said it wants to rebuild SAA into an iconic South African brand and a sustainable, world-class pan-African airline. Initially, the new owners will commit over 3 billion rand ($221.60 million) to breathe new life into SAA.

“The partnership represents a robust, exciting South-African bred solution. Harith, as owners of Lanseria International Airport, has significant experience in the transportation and aviation sectors,” Harith’s co-founder and chair of Takatso Consortium, Tshepo Mahloele, said in the statement.
“Global’s operating model is unique, highly efficient, and fit for purpose for a newly launched airline,” he continued.
South African Airways To Relaunch With 51% Private Ownership
The airline’s new owner says it is hoping to turn SAA into what it calls an iconic South African brand. Photo: Adam Moreira via Wikimedia Commons

Remaining regional for now

While the airline’s new investors may have far-reaching plans for their acquisition, it looks as if they will remain regional for now. In May, SAA’s interim CEO told the national parliament that it is unlikely the carrier will operate long-haul flights again until 2023.
What do you make of the new private equity partnership for South African Airways? Is it the solution to the history of financial woes for the flag carrier? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. 
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