Sept. 8, 2022


2 min read

South Africa's SA Express reportedly set for final liquidation

South Africa's SA Express reportedly set for final liquidation

SA Express has not flown since March 2020, and now looks unlikely to fly again

Story highlights

    The regional airline has failed to find a buyer before deadline set by liquidators
    Provisional liquidators declare that R50 million was needed to save SA Express

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SOUTH African Express Airways, also known as SA Express, faces final liquidation following several failed attempts to finalize a sale. The state-owned regional airline ceased operations on March 18, 2020, and went into provisional liquidation in April 2020.

Following a series of setbacks, bidding was reopened as part of the provisional liquidation process in March 2022, but this latest attempt to find a buyer for SA Express also appears to have been unsuccessful.

According to South African news outlet Fin24, the Dynamic People's Union of South Africa (DYPUSA) has stated that it is disappointed with the manner in which the country’s government handled the liquidation of SA Express. The union’s general secretary, Mashudu Raphetha, said,

The provisional liquidators declared that R50 million was needed to save SA Express. The sale of the airline’s tangible assets, which included aircraft and spare parts, brought in around R30 million, and earlier this year, a number of employees grouped together to purchase the airline’s intangible assets, made up primarily of licenses and landing slots, for R5 million.

However, in August 2022, South Africa’s Air Services Licensing Council canceled SA Express’ licenses, citing the airline’s failure to comply with the International Air Services Act. With no licenses, SA Express then had very few intangible assets to sell, meaning that the required amount could not be raised.

As a result, the airline is now facing final liquidation. Simple Flying has reached out to SA Express for comment.

SA Express began operations in April 1994. By the time it ceased operations in March 2020, the airline had a fleet of 24 aircraft. From its hub at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport, the carrier flew to a variety of domestic and regional destinations, including Gaborone (GBE), Walvis Bay (WVB), Cape Town (CPT), and Durban (DUR).

The SA Express fleet was made up of 24 aircraft – 10 Bombardier CRJ200s, four Bombardier CRJ700s, and 10 Dash 8-Q400s. The aircraft carried 50, 70, and 74 passengers respectively.

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SA Express hit the headlines again earlier this year when it was revealed that employees had not been paid since the airline ceased operations in early 2020. The case was taken to South Africa’s Human Rights Commission.

Following the demise of a number of South African carriers in recent years, including Mango (and now seemingly SA Express too), as well as the drastic reduction in South African Airways’ operation, the country’s domestic and regional aviation market is now largely dominated by Airlink. With its fleet of 59 aircraft, Airlink serves an impressive 63 routes, reaching as far north as Entebbe (EBB) in Uganda and as far-east as Antananarivo (TNR) in Madagascar.

As air travel continues to rebound, it remains to be seen if new operators will seize the opportunity to enter what was, prior to the pandemic, a busy and growing market. – Simple Flying

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