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South African Airways still seeking West Africa hub

Published on 30/01/2014

South African Airways, the continent's largest carrier, is still looking to establish a hub in West Africa, its chief financial officer told AFP Thursday.

Amid speculation that SAA may bid for a large stake in Senegal Airlines, Wolf Meyer said the state-backed company was looking at multiple options.

“We are looking at a West Africa hub, that is currently being investigated, but there are no definite plans to acquire any share in any airlines at this point of time,” he said.

“I am not saying it will not happen, but it is currently being investigated that we are looking at a second hub in West Africa.”

“It is not necessarily Senegal,” he added. “We are looking at other West African destinations as well.”

A move to establish a second hub in West Africa would open up a market that includes some of Africa’s fastest growing economies and could bring in a valuable revenue.

Long-struggling SAA on Wednesday reported a loss of 1.2 billion rand ($107 million) before tax in results for 2012 and 2013.

Total income increased by 14 percent, while operating costs went up 12 percent year-on-year.

The airline cut costs by $89 million in the year, but said these were offset by higher fuel costs and the national currency’s flagging rate against the dollar.

In 2013 it borrowed 1.5 billion rand to keep flying.

The government, its only stakeholder, gave the firm a five-billion-rand guarantee to finance a turnaround in late 2012.

It is currently seeking a new recapitalisation from the South African government.