South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday that many investors were interested in taking an equity stake in South African Airways (SAA), after the government appointed new board members to turn around the struggling national airline.

South Africa Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba

SAA relies on government guarantees to keep it solvent and has been repeatedly cited by the major credit rating agencies as a threat to South Africa’s public finances.

Gigaba told a news conference that he wanted the new chief executive of SAA, Vuyani Jarana, to restore confidence in the airline and consolidate its assets.

“We will continue … to have discussions about the strategic equity partner for South African Airways because ultimately we are going to need not only private sector capital, but also expertise for us to move forward and bring SAA back to sustainability,” Gigaba said.

Last month, Gigaba cited bailouts to state-owned companies like SAA when unveiling dismal medium-term budget forecasts – which Moody’s described as “credit negative”.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Ed Stoddard