South African Airways (SAA) might be forced to suspend some flights and delay salary payments if the government doesn’t come up with a plan soon to provide the R2 billion it promised the airline last month.

State-owned SAA was placed under business rescue last month in an effort to save the company and 10 000 related jobs. At the time it was promised R2 billion from government and another R2 billion from lenders.

Unions briefed by the specialists appointed to turnaround the national carrier were told on Wednesday that the government had not yet been able to provide its portion of the funds and that the R2 billion from lenders had been exhausted.

National Transport Movement President Mashudu Raphetha says SAA’s business rescue practitioners need clarity from government on the R2 billion of promised funding by the 19th of this month.

Raphetha said, “Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said that the money for SAA will be found in time. I’m not sure if he’s holding thumbs like what the rest of us should be thinking. But, they really, really need that money. According to news reports, the R2 billion that came from external lenders has already been burnt through.”

He adds, “They’ve spoken to unions, there’s probably going to be an issue in paying salaries if government funding doesn’t come through.”