By Victor Shalton
South African Airways Sends Airbus Aircraft to Spain for Long-Term Storage
South African Airways has sent its Airbus A330-200 and A350-900 to Teruel Airport in Spain for long term storage amid locked horns with staff and management over the furloughing process and calls to liquidate the airline.
Teruel Airport is located in Spain outside the town of Teruel and hosts aircraft from all over the world that have been withdrawn from service either temporarily or permanently and caters to their maintenance needs. It is important to note that the airport is not an aircraft junkyard.
Teruel also houses new serviceable aircraft and some aging airliners that may also be scrapped after being stripped off their valuable parts and spares.
South African Airways took delivery of its new Airbus A350 towards the end of last year to replace its aging and costly Airbus A340 fleet and possibly aid the airline towards its restructuring. The African carrier also recently removed some of its A340s fleet from service after failing to find a suitable buyer for these airliners along with a variety of spare parts to aid in its restructuring efforts.
The embattled airline still awaits its creditors’ vote on a long-delayed rescue package drawn up by its Business Rescue Practitioners with a 75 percent voting majority required to carry out a decision.
In the ongoing discussion over the future of the airline, pilots recently proposed, through their union, that the airline should retain a much larger workforce – in particular, more pilots in the new airline to be created from the old SAA if the creditors vote to accept its business rescue plan.
The initial plan was to retain 1,000 employees and cut over 2,500 employees but South African Airways Pilots Association (SAAPA) proposed around 1,548 staff be retrenched while 3,099 staff members are retained. The higher number of staff would be offset by increased cuts in salaries.
“[The proposals] purport to be affordable now, when in fact they would cause the base costs of starting a new airline to be substantially higher, unaffordable and unsustainable,” said the Department of Public Enterprise (DPE) in a statement.
“The DPE has informed SAAPA that their proposals cannot be accepted nor will they accede to any further unreasonable and greedy demands from sections of union leadership for additional benefits. This goes against the stated goal of ensuring a new, restructured, viable and competitive airline that must emerge from a business rescue process for SAA,” continued the statement.
R2.2 billion (USD 131,355,158) has been set aside to fund the severance pay for SAA staff while the pilot’s proposal could take up to R1.986 billion (USD 118,213,894) according to the DPE.