South African Airways (SAA) is racing to respond to charges of administrative breaches or face losing its licenses, after the country’s Air Services Licensing Council (ASLC) issued a 90-day suspension notice. 

According to Business Report, the ASLC issued a directive to the airline pertaining to the Air Services Licensing Act, informing the airline of its failure to comply with the Act. It has 90 days to respond or face the suspension and/or cancellation of its existing license. 

In the letter of Aug 3, 2022, seen by Business Report, the ASLC highlights the airline’s failure to formally notify the council of its transaction with its new strategic equity partner (SEP) Takatso Consortium. 

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The ASLC said that SAA had made four material breaches of the authority’s licensing Act and gave the airline 90 days to provide the necessary documentation, according to Business Report. 

South African Airways responds 

South African Airways has since responded, confirming the receipt of a letter from the ASLC, but noting the breaches are purely administrative and not operational.  

SAA said it is “currently studying the contents of the letter and will be responding fully to the ASLC within or before the timeframe provided by the council,” according to a press statement. 

“SAA assures its customers and the public that the matters raised in the letter are of an administrative nature relating to the SEP transaction that is currently being negotiated by the Government, as the shareholder as well as issues relating to SAA’s interaction with the ASLC, the submission of financial statements and internal staff movement,” the statement continued. 

However, SAA assured that its local and regional operations will continue, stating that the questions raised in the letter do not impact the airline’s “current and future operations.”  

Along with failing to notify the ASLC of the Takatso transaction, Business Report cites further breaches. Among them is that the Takatso consortium would result in SAA not being actively in control of its air services, that a payment guarantee was not sufficient, that SAA had failed to notify the Council of changes to key postholders and that it failed to submit financial statements in time.  

SAA must now respond and provide the missing documentation in order to ensure compliance with its license conditions.