SOUTH AFRICA – SA Express employees are bidding to buy the state-owned airline in an attempt to save jobs and to prevent the carrier’s final liquidation after North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted an extension for SA Express’s final liquidation to October 28 this year.

A special purpose vehicle created to bid for the airline’s assets would be backed by private investors and Fly SAX, with the employees as the owner.

Fly SAX Spokesperson Thabsile Sikhakhane said that employees who have not been paid salaries since February want total ownership of the airline.

“What we have done so far is that we’ve met all the requirements for the first phase of the bidding requirements, and we are now on the second one, so we’ve really made good moves” said Sikhakhane.

 “We have also approached quite a few anchor investors who are ready and are just waiting for approval from the liquidators and equity partners,” he added.

SA Express staff protested outside the offices of the Department of Public Enterprises in June, demanding answers on the payment of outstanding salaries.

Since taking to the skies in April 1994, South African Express Airways became one of the fastest growing regional airlines in Africa and part of the trusted South African Airways (SAA) alliance and plays a significant role in the country’s hospitality, travel and tourism industry.

Apart from the airline’s employees, SA Express also received bids which  closed on Friday with offers from Theunis Crous, founder of Fly Modern Ark aircraft leasing company, and Tabz Qadir, founder of Uprise Africa, a crowdfunding, private-equity platform that has teamed up with a group of former employees.

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