by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE South African Football Association (SAFA) has opened negotiations with some airlines following the end of its partnership with the South African Airways (SAA).
SAA, which has returned to the skies after a year grounded by bankruptcy, had been the official airline for Bafana Bafana, the senior men’s national team.
Officials from the football mother body confirmed that the partnership with the now-revived airline ended in April 2020 and was not renewed.
Apparently, the football public missed the termination of the contract because then, SAA was also non-operational as flights were halted, and international football had been off because of the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Gronie Hluyo, the SAFA Chief Financial Officer, confirmed discussions with air carriers albeit these deliberations being in the initial stages.
“Currently we are not attached to any airline,” he said in an interview.
“We are exploring potential partnerships with a few airlines. The discussions are still early stages though,” Hluyo told CAJ News Africa.
While the partnership was not finance-based, SAFA received an annual allocation of what is known as Travel Rands for Bafana. These are the flight tickets discounts.
SAA meanwhile has exited business rescue after 17 months.
It resumed flights three weeks ago.
Vimla Maistry, SAA Head of Stakeholder Relations and Acting spokesperson, said, “We have been in lock down as well as in business rescue – which has put all partnerships on hold, not just (with) SAFA.”
She was responding to an enquiry by CAJ News Africa.
“We (are) happy to explore other partnerships beneficial to both parties,” Maistry said.
While the restructured SAA is back in the skies, the new look Bafana are also flying high in Group G of the African qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Coach Hugo Broos’ team are contending with second-placed Ghana to win the group, which would pave way for two-legged playoff matches to determine the five African nations to qualify for the tournament in Qatar.
– CAJ News