South African Airway (SAA) has reportedly lost 20 licences to routes that serve domestic and international passengers.

The Air Services Licensing Council (ASLC) revoked the licences after SAA was unable to prove that it had sufficient personnel, facilities, and equipment to service the routes, according to aviation analyst, Phuthego Mojapele.

Speaking to ENCA, Mojapele said that the airline wished to keep access to 52 routes and made representations to the council, but could not sufficiently justify having 20 of the licences when the routes were not in operation.

Mojapele said the regulations around routes are straightforward – an airline needs to have flights, personnel, and points of presence on the routes to keep them.

SAA failed to illustrate to the council that they had a concrete plan of moving the airline forward.

It is unclear which routes have been revoked; however, it is believed that some of them may be of great importance.

The relaunching of the airline, once it was in business rescue for over a year, has been labelled by the council as a breach of the Air Services Licensing Act (Act).

According to the Department of Public Enterprises, the airline is on a time limit to comply with the ASLC’s investigation into the compliance or non-compliance with the Act.

The survival of SAA depends on its current partnership deal with Takatso Consortium, which remains largely unclear. There is a case in the Western Cape high court where another prospective buyer of the airline, Toto Investments, has asked to have the reasons for the sale made public.

The aviation sector requires that an airline makes use of its licence when in operation.