SA Express welcomes Solenta dispute resolution

South African Express (SA Express) on Tuesday welcomed the resolution of a dispute it had with charter operator Solenta Aviation.

“SA Express has always maintained that this was a matter of contractual dispute and did not warrant an application for liquidation hence the referral for arbitration to avoid a long drawn out court process,” said the airline on Tuesday.

This followed an arbitration hearing on Monday which ruled in the airline’s favour.

The dispute related to a Gauteng High Court application to have the airline liquidated over R87.3 million in unpaid leasing debts due on three E145s aircraft the airline wet-leased from Solenta between October 2016 and June 2017.

In 2017, SA Express leased aircraft from the charter operator to supplement its fleet.

The airline contended that the grounding of the leased aircraft by Solenta was a clear breach of the lease agreement between the two parties and constituted a repudiation of the lease contract.

SA Express Interim CEO Siza Mzimela said it was unfortunate that the dispute had to drag on for a prolonged period of time.

“We are just relieved that the matter is now behind us and we can now focus on the core business of restoring SA Express’s fortunes as we continue on our quest to reclaim the airline’s mettle as a leader in the local and regional aviation industry,” said Mzimela.

The ruling coincides with the airline’s celebration of its key performance milestone — the reopening of its second largest base in Cape Town.

The airline falls under the Department of Public Enterprises.