South African Airways
  • SAA's future is in the balance, it could run out of cash as early as this weekend.
  • Travellers who have booked SAA tickets may be facing uncertainty - but politicians will remain unscathed.
  • They will still receive their quote of free flights on other airlines.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

The future of SAA is hanging in the balance. The loss-making airline has not yet secured the R2 billion it needs by Saturday to keep on flying.

SAA, which was placed in business rescue last year, also plans to sell nine of its planes - more evidence that its days may be numbered.

The ANC’s national executive committee is expected to debate the future of SAA on Saturday.

Also read: Most countries don’t own an airline - South Africa is part of a shrinking group, with only a handful making money

Some 6,000 jobs are under threat at the airline, and taxpayers may be facing billions in winding-up costs, including for retrenchment costs. This after they already had to cough up R16.5 billion over the past decade on bailouts for SAA. This works out to around R1,000 per household.

Those who booked tickets on SAA may also face uncertain times – especially travellers who did not get flight insurance.

One group that will remain relatively unaffected is South African politicians.

Even if the airline goes bust, they will not lose their generous travel benefits.

The more than 400 members of the national assembly are entitled to 88 domestic flights a year, and members of the cabinet receive 30 domestic business class flights.

Also read: Cellphones, R1-million salaries, free flights and airport parking - these are some of the perks awaiting new MPs

Former cabinet ministers are entitled to 48 business class domestic flights, and former deputy ministers to 36 business class domestic flights.

Speaking to Business Insider South Africa last year, parliamentary media relations manager Khuthala Noah confirmed that these flights do not have to be on SAA.

Members of parliament and ministers can, therefore, make use of any one of the commercial airlines in South Africa including British Airways and Kulula.

The embattled airline has suffered billions in losses, and for the second year running failed to submit its financial statements as its auditors believe it may not be a going concern. 

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has previously said SAA is a luxury the South African state can’t afford. He has repeatedly said he would rather use the money it would take to keep SAA flying to instead boost public transport, including the taxi industry.

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