By Banele Ginindza for IOL
The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has not been derailed from its aspirations in the aviation sector by the recent rebuff from Mango Airlines business rescue practitioners (BRPs) and is actually looking at its options after consultations with its constituency, officials confirmed yesterday.
The organisation said it had initiated plans to enter the sector from as early as 2011, but was derailed by the downturn in the global economy and had taken on the Mango initiative as part of a broader strategy.
“A number of issues compelled us to take a step back even then. At that time we had not even dreamt that Mango would be up for sale, so the sale of Mango had presented us with an opportunity to remodel our entry into the industry,” spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said yesterday.
He said the organisation was not ready yet to fully comment on the Mango rebuttal or what strategy it would adopt to gain a foothold.
Aviation experts said over the weekend that with Santaco’s liquidity, the R820 million price tag for Mango was over the top and that kind of muscle would enable a whole start up of an airline as the trend amongst operators was to lease aircraft instead of outright purchases.
“The aviation industry has changed a lot since the pandemic and there are no guarantees for new entrants,” Molelekwa said.
Molelekwa would not be drawn to comment if Santaco’s review of the BRPs decision included a legal challenge, saying the organisation still had to report to its constituency, which is taxi operators countrywide.
Sources close to Santaco said the organisation was still keen to get a foot into the aviation industry, but that some advice it had obtained pointed to various options that were being considered.
BRPs, led by Sipho Sono, informed Santaco that their bid for Mango was unsuccessful for the transport organisation with more money than dust.
“The BRP of Mango evaluated all expressions of interest received in relation to the proposed transaction in accordance with the evaluation criteria and principles set out in the Bid Process Letter. After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that Santaco Services was not selected as a shortlisted bidder and accordingly shall not progress to the second phase of evaluation for the Proposed Transaction. On behalf of Mango, we again wish to reiterate our appreciation of your interest in the Proposed Transaction and wish you the best with your future endeavours,” Sono has told Santaco.
Industry experts said Santaco was being rebuffed to save the South African Airways (SAA) blushes of facing competition from a well muscled organisation which would ultimately gain the upper hand with better organisation.
“There is going to be war, those taxi guys have the muscle to take on SAA which is why the Minister (Pravin Gordhan) is not going to allow opposition to get into the industry,” an industry player said.