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Sun Air Being Liquidated

August 13, 1999

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ South Africa’s third-largest airline, which was mostly black-owned, closed down Friday because of undisclosed financial losses.

The government board that rules on major acquisitions said Sun Air was ``a failing company″ and it was in the public interest to ensure an orderly shutdown.

The board signed off Thursday on a plan to sell Sun Air’s black-owned shares to South African Airlines, the country’s largest carrier. It also approved the subsequent liquidation, said David Lewis, the board’s chairman.

Under a post-apartheid program that encouraged black ownership of public companies that have been privatized, 75 percent of Sun Air was black-owned.

The chairman of the South African Pilot’s Association, Glen Watson, lamented the shutdown.

``It’s a tragedy that one of the truly racially integrated companies, which epitomizes the spirit and hope of the new South Africa, had to close its doors due to profit and commercial considerations,″ Watson told the daily newspaper, The Star, in Johannesburg.

``Sun was offering a four-star service for three-star prices in a competitive environment,″ Kananile Makheta, president of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents, told The Star.

Comair, the country’s second-largest carrier and a competitor of South African Airlines, owns 25 percent of Sun Air. Comair and SAA are expected to absorb some of Sun Air’s hundreds of employees, and to accommodate ticket holders for Sun Air flights.

Last month, the Department of Transport approved an application by South Africa’s first independent black-controlled airline, African Star, to schedule daily passenger and cargo flights to Europe.

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