SAir Group to buy 20 percent stake in South African Airways

The SAir Group - which includes Switzerland's national airline Swissair - is buying a 20 percent stake in South African Airways, the new South African president Thabo Mbeki said Friday.

This content was published on June 25, 1999 minutes

In a speech to the South African parliament, Mbeki said the SFr350 million ($230 million) deal was part of the partial privatisation of the airline.

"We are very happy with the result and convinced that it will lead to in the highest possible gains for our county," said Mbeki. He added that the agreement would strengthen South Africa's ties to Switzerland.

A spokeswoman for Swissair said "Africa represents tremendous market opportunities for the future - air traffic in the southern hemisphere is becoming increasingly important."

The two airlines have been working together since last September. Together, they hold 40 percent of the market share in the route linking Europe and South Africa, according to the SAir group.

The German carrier Lufthansa and British Airways had also been interested in purchasing SAA, Africa's largest airline.

SAA has a fleet of 50 planes and transported 5.7 million passengers last year. It recorded a turnover of SFr1.8 billion ($1.2 billion).

The SAir Group had a turnover of SFr11.3 billion ($7.3 billion) in 1998 and its aircraft - which also include Crossair and Balaircta - carried 15.4 million passengers.

Sources: sda-ats, apd, dpa

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