South African taxpayers have paid R16.5bn to bail out SAA over the past decade


There are more signs that South African Airways may not survive for much longer.

In the past week, SAA put nine of its Airbus planes up for sale. Most of these planes are currently serving its long-haul routes.

The airline, which was placed under business rescue in December, is waiting on R2 billion in funding from the National Treasury to stay afloat.

But this has not been delivered and BusinessDay reported that SAA could suspend flights as early as January 19 due to a lack of funds.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni said on Thursday that the national treasury is still trying to secure the R2 billion – which would push the total government bailouts for SAA to R18.5 billion over the past decade.

Since 2009, government spent R16.5 billion to bail out SAA, roughly R1,000 per household in the country.


According to national treasury documents, SAA received a R1.5 billion bailout in the 2009/10 financial year, a R10 billion bailout in the 2017/18 financial year, and another R5 billion bailout in the 2018/19 financial year.

If the total amount is divided by the country’s estimated 16.671 million households, it amounts to almost R990 per household.

And the R2 billion outstanding funding from the national treasury is added, this will push up the taxpayer contribution to almost R1,110 per household.

Apart from the bailouts, government has also provided debt guarantees for the airline of R17.311 billion in the current financial year – from R0 as recently as 2006.

The struggling airline accumulated losses of R28 billion over the past 13 years, and has not released a financial report to the national assembly since the 2016/17 financial year.


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