The grounding of SA Express flights has left the future of its employees hanging in the balance.  The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) is currently engaged in discussions with SA Express about the future of its members following the suspension of its operations.

This follows a decision by the South African Civil Aviation Authority to suspend the carrier’s operating certificate and airworthiness certificate after an audit uncovered severe cases of non-compliance that pose serious safety risks.

South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) Spokesperson, Zanele Sabela,  says talks between the union and SA Express management are underway. “There’s currently a meeting between management at SA Express and labour and hopefully we’ll know more after the meeting.”

Meanwhile, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed that the newly appointed intervention team at SA Express identified two dodgy contracts entered into by the carrier.

In a statement from his office, he said the suspension of the airline was as a result of corruption. Tourism Lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology, Sonwabile Henama said a lot of money was lost through state capture.

“The height of state capture was really true in our country, a lot of money has been lost because money was syphoned for other ends which were not developmental in nature.  Today we are experiencing those woes because we are paying more for the corruption, but we must also be very hard on law enforcement agencies and hold people accountable for their actions.”

It was also reported that EML Energy, a company owned by a music promoter by the name of Elridge Motlhake was awarded a R2.4 billion contract to supply the airline with fuel.

The contract reportedly paid R67million a month over three years. This happened despite an already existing fuel-supply contract with SAA.  Henama says executives at SA Express need to be held personally responsible.

“SA Express has a tender deal to be supplied fuel by SAA. For executives at SA Express to sign a deal to of what, R 2. 7 billion to supply petrol is firstly criminal and they must be taken to task, and must be taken to jail because this is a corrupt activity that they’ve undertaken in because incorporated in terms of company law, they must be held individually responsible.”

Gorhdan announced the appointment of a new board to head up the carrier; he also said that SA Express will be merged with SAA’s Mango Airline. Click below for more on the story: