By Victor Shalton
Mango’s Fleet Grounded Over Non-Payment, Still In ‘Critical Discussions’ with Maintenance
South African Airways Technical (SAAT) has withdrawn its maintenance services effective Sept. 27, due to outstanding payments owed by South African Airways budget carrier Mango Airlines. The entire fleet of Mango Airlines now remains grounded with Mango flights currently being operated by Johannesburg-based Global Aviation Operations, confirmed Operations Manager Sybrand Strachan to ch-aviation.
The low-cost carrier now remains hopeful that a resolution can be found in the ongoing discussions with SAAT.
“Critical discussions with Mango and SAAT are still continuing today and we are hopeful of a resolution. Updates will be made available as soon as possible,” said Mango spokesperson Benediction Zubane in a press statement on Sunday. “Mango continues to operate as per schedule under these challenging times and all customers are urged to check Mango’s website for any changes to their flight status. We remain resolute to flying all passengers to their respective destinations as planned, and especially over the weekend.”
The report points out that SAAT — the fleet maintenance subsidiary of state-owned carrier South African Airways — withdrew its support for the airline due to alleged non-payment.
According to airline spokesperson Tlali Tlali, speaking to ENCA, SAAT sent out communications to South African Airways about the suspension because as the airline would not be able to meet its obligations regarding payments.
“SAA Technical has sent communication to SAA about the suspension. Because SAA hasn’t been able to meet its obligations regarding payments. SAA Technical is pursuing its commercial interests and needs to ensure its customers are able to pay for services rendered,” a statement on the issue released by SAAT reads.
Tlali also stated a series of meetings would be taking place over the weekend between the airlines in an attempt to resolve the issue.
“There are a series of critical meetings taking place this weekend to find a resolution to this situation because it has implications operationally,” Tlali said.
He added that while South African Airways was not operating commercial flights, it was conducting repatriation and charter flights. Some charters scheduled for next week could be affected if SAAT did not restore its services.
State-owned South African Airways is also going through the same turbulence, with flights requiring a pre-flight inspection from the technical team before take-off. No aircraft can take to the skies without a thorough check from the technical crew. If SAAT does not resume its services, those flights will also be grounded.
South African Airways, which has been in business rescue since December 2019, is currently awaiting government funding, with its administrators warning the company had run out of short-term cash to pay for operating expenses.