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Airlink interested in buying some South African Airways assets

* SAA entered form of bankruptcy protection in December

* Among several state entities mired in financial crisis

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Privately-owned airline Airlink is interested in buying some of the assets of struggling state carrier South African Airways (SAA) and expanding on routes SAA discontinues, Airlink’s chief executive told Reuters.

SAA entered a form of bankruptcy protection in December and is fighting for its survival.

Specialists appointed to try to rescue SAA said on Thursday that they would cut some domestic and international routes from the end of February and that they would consider asset sales.

SAA is among several South African state entities including power company Eskom that are mired in financial crisis after nearly a decade of mismanagement. It hasn’t made a profit since 2011.

“Airlink has registered interest with the business rescue practitioners in purchasing certain of SAA’s assets,” Airlink CEO Rodger Foster said.

Foster said Airlink could be interested in buying a stake in SAA’s low-cost subsidiary Mango Airlines as well as some infrastructure at South African Airways Technical, if SAA’s business rescue practitioners put those assets up for sale.

He added that Airlink could look to increase flights on three African routes that SAA has decided to discontinue from the end of February, to Entebbe, Ndola and Luanda. (Reporting by Alexander Winning; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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