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SAA Airbus swap deal goes Nene’s way

South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni has officially lost her battle to reconfigure the airline’s Airbus swap deal, which could have threatened the financial stability of SAA.

SAA informed the Treasury that the board approved the execution of the transaction as directed and a process is underway to conclude it within the next few days, Treasury said in a statement late on Monday.

Sticking to former minister Nhlanhla Nene’s approved plan from July this year, the transaction will see SAA swap the purchase of ten A320 aircraft for a lease of five A330-300 aircraft from Airbus.

The implementation of the deal in this manner will mean that SAA will no longer be required to pay additional pre-delivery payments to Airbus, which would have amounted to about R603m.

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The SAA board conceded defeat to Treasury on Monday after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan directed it to conclude the swap transaction with Airbus in line with approval granted by Nene.

After his appointment, Gordhan gave SAA an opportunity to make further representation, following which he decided that the airline must go ahead with executing the A320/A330 swap as had been approved by Nene, Treasury said.

Treasury has also been in direct contact with Airbus to ensure that all the required actions are executed smoothly to conclude the deal, it said on Monday.

“Airbus has indicated that they are amenable to the implementation of the transaction and have required that all legal documentation be in place by 28 December 2015,” said Treasury. “The National Treasury will work closely with Airbus and SAA to finalise the swap transaction.”

Fin 24

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