Mango Airlines, the low cost arm of state-owned South African Airways, was forced to suspend all flights after missing payments to the country’s airports regulator.
The carrier’s senior management is in “emergency discussions” with the government about finding a solution, Mango tweeted on Wednesday. The company owes an unspecified amount to Airports Company South Africa, which owns and manages hubs including in Johannesburg and Cape Town. ACSA couldn’t immediately comment.
The grounding is an indication of the deteriorating financial position at Mango, which has been hit by the coronavirus crisis that’s hammered the airline industry worldwide. South Africa’s government temporarily suspended air travel last year to contain the pandemic, starving Mango of revenue.
Mango was considering a halt to operations from May 1 to go into business rescue while awaiting government funding, Business Day reported earlier.
SAA itself has been working through a laborious business-rescue process that started in late 2019, and has yet to resume commercial flights after more than a year. The carrier’s recovery has been hampered by South Africa’s isolation from much of the world due to travel bans, which have made it all but impossible to operate a viable large-scale international schedule.
Comair Ltd., one of Mango’s two main domestic rivals, was put into a local form of bankruptcy protection in May last year before resuming flights with support from lenders and investors. The company operates the Kulula brand and is the local partner for IAG SA’s British Airways.