October 06, 2020: As part of a joint venture with South Africa government, Ethiopian Airlines is willing to provide planes, pilots and maintenance services to South African Airways (SAA), reports BNN Bloomberg.

Ethiopian’s CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said that the carrier is not interested in helping with debt repayments or the cost of reducing the workforce.

“We don’t want to deal with the legacy issues — the debt, labour claims and so on because that is very difficult for us not only in terms of financial outlay but also in terms of managing the restructuring,” he said. “We want to make it very easy for them to start the airline by providing airplanes, by providing expertise, pilots, technicians, and leadership.”

Ethiopian could provide more modern A350s and B787s, he said, in comparison with SAA’s A340 planes.

In August, South Africa’s government has initiated talks with private entities interested in buying into SAA, which needs at least R10 billion to resume operations.

The airline has been in bankruptcy protection since December. The cash is needed in part for ticket refunds and severance packages for almost 4,000 workers who agreed to leave as part of a rescue plan put together by administrators and backed by labour groups.

In August, the last of SAA’s A350 has left Johannesburg. Following the departure of two A350s in July, the final two are being returned to Air Mauritius.

SAA’s relationship with A350 was for a short-term. It was hoped that the arrival of these high capacity, efficient jets would allow it to streamline operations and shed inefficient aircraft like its A340s. But SAA’s financial situation coupled with the Covid-19 led the fleet to stay grounded.

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