Gulf giants talking with South African Airways

By BLOOMBERG

JOHANNESBURG • Two United Arab Emirates (UAE) airlines have held talks with South African Airways (SAA) about a partnership that it said is needed to revive its business, City Press reported, citing the UAE ambassador to South Africa.

Talks between Emirates Airline and SAA, which have been going on for some months, are being facilitated by the UAE’s embassy in Pretoria, the Johannesburgbased newspaper cited Mahash Alhameli as saying.

Etihad Airways has also been holding separate negotiations with SAA, he said.

An investment in the unprofitable carrier would come after the UAE pledged to invest as much as US$10 billion (RM40.6 billion) in South Africa’s economy, a commitment made during a visit by the nation’s President Cyril Ramaphosa this month. Ramaphosa has started an aggressive push to attract foreign investment since taking over from Jacob Zuma in February.

SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana has repeatedly said an aviation investor could be the answer to the financial crisis at SAA, which hasn’t made a profit since 2011 and received a government bailout last year to avoid a debt default. While no candidates have come forward, the Gulf airlines have been mentioned before, given their routes from major African cities to Middle East hubs and on to Asia or Europe.

While the UAE sees potential to invest in the stateowned power utility, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, those discussions aren’t as advanced as the airline talks, Alhameli said.