Emirates not investing in South Africa Airways


JOHANNESBURG • Gulf carrier Emirates has ruled out investing in South African Airways (SAA), narrowing the number of potential saviours of the loss-making state airline.

While Emirates and SAA are working closely to enhance their code-sharing agreement, there are no plans to invest, an Emirates spokesperson said in an emailed statement yesterday.

The Dubai-based company commented after Johannesburg-based newspaper City Press reported both Emirates and Etihad were in talks with SAA about a partnership, citing the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to South Africa.

SAA is in the throes of a financial crisis that has led CEO Vuyani Jarana to call for an aviation-industry investor to help it return to profit and avoid further government bailouts. Gulf airlines have been muted as candidates, given their routes linking major African cities with Middle Eastern hubs and other Asian and European destinations.

Etihad declined to comment, while SAA didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Any move by Etihad to invest in SAA would reverse its policy to scale back a past strategy by sealing alliances through equity investments, which saw the Abu Dhabibased airline spend cash on struggling carriers including Air Berlin plc, which filed for insolvency last year.

Etihad CEO Tony Douglas is reigning in the carrier’s reach by cutting jobs, routes and working to freeze plane orders.