Administrators at state-owned South African Airways (SAA) have asked creditors to delay the publication of a rescue plan for the cash-strapped airline until next week, after trade unions objected to the plan being published on Monday.

The rescue plan for SAA, which has not made a profit since 2011, has been repeatedly pushed back amid fierce wrangling over the airline’s future.

The government and unions have been pressing for SAA to be salvaged in some form, despite its longstanding frailties being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed even once-profitable airlines into financial distress.

The administrators, appointed in December when SAA entered a local form of bankruptcy protection, asked creditors to approve a delay in the publication of the rescue plan until June 15.

Their latest request followed a letter from the attorneys of the Numsa, Sacca and Saapa unions objecting to the plan being published before unions held further talks with the government on the draft plan.

The administrators said they thought it would not “be appropriate to proceed with the publication of the business rescue plan without conveying the request of the unions that represent a majority of the SAA employees.”

A draft plan from late last month proposed a restructuring funded by more bailouts. It also suggested cutting the airline’s workforce and aircraft fleet roughly in half.

SA Express employees picket over salaries 

Meanwhile, SA Express employees are picketing outside the offices of the Public Enterprises Department in Pretoria on Monday. The employees picketed outside the Union Buildings last week to demand their pay.

The frustrated employees want the government to respond and delay the provisional liquidation of SA express before a final order of liquidation is made.

Government has until Tuesday to oppose the liquidation. The High Court in Pretoria placed SA Express under provisional liquidation last month after the airline’s Business Rescue Practitioners filed an urgent court application.

Employees were told their salaries could not be paid because the airline was facing financial difficulties. Thabisile Sikakane is the employees’ representative.

“DPE is our shareholder and we are hoping they will be there to accept our memorandum which addresses three things one pay employers salaries, two retrench employees and pay retrenchment packages as required by labour law, three delay liquidation until all staff have been retrenched and proper salaries paid through funding from DPE. This will enable faster access to pension and provident fund money for employees. The government has taken care of all other SOE’s beside us.”

In the video below, SA Express workers march to the Union Buildings:

-Additional reporting by SABC News