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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan have defended the controversial decision to secure South African Airways (SAA) a U.S.$643,838,000 lifeline that will see budgets of crucial service delivery programs cut to shift taxpayer funds to the bankrupt airline. Mboweni contends that unlike previous bailouts to SAA – amounting to roughly U.S.$3.4 billion since 1994 – the latest will set the airline on a path of recovery under a business rescue process. Previous government bailouts have directly funded SAA, helping it to pay debt to lenders, while the airline’s financial situation deteriorated further because it last turned a profit in 2011. The decision was poorly received by public interest law centre Section27 who said the funds equal nearly a year’s worth of school infrastructure funding.

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A South African Airways Airbus landing at Munich Airport (file photo).