Over 3 000 South African Airways (SAA) employees have applied for voluntary retrenchment. The number is much higher than anticipated and could lead to a collapse of operations.

Last month, SAA unions accepted an offer for Voluntary Severance Packages for 2 700 workers as part of a proposed rescue plan by the government-appointed Business Rescue Practitioners.

As part of the plan, 1 000 employees would be retained to run a new restructured national airline. But now, a total of 3 142 employees have applied for Voluntary Severance Packages which offer a guaranteed payment of R350 000 per employee and up to R2 million for pilots.

Unions say the reason for the high number of applications is because workers have not been paid salaries for the past four months and are now struggling to survive.

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