SAA suffered losses of more than R10 billion in two years

SAA has suffered massive losses in two consecutive years. File Picture: Leon Nicholas / Independent Newspapers

SAA has suffered massive losses in two consecutive years. File Picture: Leon Nicholas / Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 14, 2023


The embattled SAA continued to be plagued by the cash crisis in the last two years while the government was working on rescue packages to ensure it remained operational.

In its audited financial results, the airline said for 2021 it suffered a loss of R7.6 billion. This was up from R5.7 billion in 2020.

However, its loss in 2022 dropped to R3.6 billion.

The state of finances of SAA had remained shrouded in secrecy for the last few years as the airline has not submitted its financial statements to the Auditor-General to be audited.

But for the last few years, the airline has incurred huge losses.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan finally submitted the outstanding annual reports of SAA to Parliament.

The law requires that the financial statements of departments and state-owned entities be submitted to Parliament every year.

In 2021, the airline said it incurred a loss of R7.6 billion.

This was the year that it received another bailout of R17.5 billion from government.

“SAA received R17.5 billion in funding from the shareholder—R7.8 billion for the Business Rescue Plan, R0.3 billion for letters of credit, and R9.4 billion for post-commencement funding and the repayment of legacy debt.

“During the year, the authorised and issued share capital increased, as referenced in note 43. This enabled SAA to issue shares for the shareholder contribution received in prior years (R20.5 billion). The current year's funding is reflected in Note 44 as Shareholder Contribution. Shares in respect of this funding were issued in the 2021/22 financial year,” said SAA in the annual report.

In her report, the Auditor-General issued another disclaimer against SAA.

Despite incurring a loss of R3.6 billion last year, the airline was given another bailout of R6.9 billion.

“SAA received R6.9 billion in funding from the shareholder during the year; this was for the repayment of legacy debt (R4.1 billion) and the recapitalisation of subsidiaries (R2.7 billion). During the year, SAA issued shares for the shareholder contribution received in the prior year (R18.3 billion) and R6.1 billion of the current year’s funding (refer note 41). Shares for the remaining R719 million in funding were issued in the 2022/23 financial year. This R719 million is reflected in Note 42 as Shareholder Contribution,” said the airline.

The Auditor-General, Tsakani Maluleke, said she could not make an audit opinion as the books of SAA were in shambles.

She said she was not able to form an opinion because there was no evidence on the financial matters.

“I do not express an opinion on the financial statements of the public entity. Because of the significance of the matters described in the basis for disclaimer of opinion section of this auditor’s report, I was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an audit opinion on these consolidated and separate financial statements,” said the auditor-general.

The auditor-general said her findings were based on the fact that she could get evidence for freight and mail revenue, aircraft lease costs, maintenance costs, operating costs, and finance costs.

These are the same issues that the auditor-general raised in previous years.

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