Africa: Pan-African Airline Plans in Limbo As SAA Capital Injection Deal Collapses

Pan-African Airline, a highly anticipated venture, finds itself in a state of uncertainty following the collapse of plans for a private capital infusion into South African Airways (SAA).

The plan, spearheaded by the Takatso Group over the past three years, aimed to secure a majority stake in South Africa’s national carrier, paving the way for its resurgence with fresh financial backing.

Initially, the Takatso Aviation consortium, endorsed by the government as the preferred partner, secured approval for acquiring a 51 percent share in SAA.

However, recent developments have derailed this trajectory as the South African Government disclosed that the proposed acquisition has faltered due to a revised transaction structure.

“Late last year, clearly, we had a different market, we had a different economy, and we had a different flying public in terms of numbers of people that were flying and a new valuation was done.

“And the new valuation…the business came out now at a value of R1 billion and the property went up to about R5.5 billion which meant that any negotiations on this transaction would have to take into account the new valuations that have emerged,” said the Government.

The envisioned Pan-African Airlines, a collaborative effort between Kenya Airways and SAA, was slated for establishment this year. However, Kenya Airways revealed last week that the project faces postponement as both airlines prioritise recapitalisation efforts.

“The plans are still on but will be delayed because we are recapitalising this year, and I believe so is SAA,” Allan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways told Business Day Africa earlier.

Under the leadership of Harith General Partners, Takatso Group had outlined a plan to acquire a controlling 51 percent stake in SAA Group, injecting a substantial sum of $167 million into the carrier’s operational coffers.

The genesis of this collaboration traces back to November 2021 when a strategic partnership framework was inked between Kenya Airways and South African Airways, witnessed by Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta (former) of South Africa and Kenya, respectively.

This pact aimed to synergise assets, bolster connectivity for both passengers and cargo, and render air travel more accessible through competitive pricing and expanded route networks.

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