Airports Ground Handler

Swissport lacked license at time of SAA tender

A South African inquiry commission found Swissport SA lacked the legally required license when submitting its bid for an SAA tender. The tender in question required that he bidder have a valid Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) license to qualify.

Excerpt from The Citizen:

“What we saw was the Swissport SA at the time that the tender closed, they did not have a license from Acsa to provide services. The closing date was July 1, 2008,” Polani Sokombela, a business executive at the Auditor-General South Africa (Agsa), told the commission.

“[Also], upon my team inspecting an email from an official from Acsa dated June 4, 2008 – it was noted that at the time of submission of Swissport SA’s bid, they did not have a grounding license,” he added.

A letter – dated July 14, 2018, from the Swissport president that was addressed to SAA – indicated it had been awarded the third ramp – valid from September 1, 2008 – for five years.

The commission is continuing with aviation-related evidence by zooming into the Agsa audit report that delves into the role private firms played when they were conducting a joint audit of SAA as well as what the Agsa found following the five years of audit work, from 2012 to 2016, during which the entity was given a clean audit.

The Agsa took over the SAA audit in the 2016/17 financial year after the entity had received consecutive clean audits for five years from private firms PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Nkonki. According to Sokombela, a third bidder – Menzies Aviation – felt disadvantaged in the bidding process due to the other bidders who were already doing the groundwork for SAA.

As a result, they applied for an extension on June 30, 2018, which was subsequently denied by the airline. “SAA did not grant that extension, and that ended up with Menzies taking SAA to court. On December 4, 2009, the High Court ruled in favor of Menzies.

“The tender process was set aside as it was found to be unconstitutional and unlawful,” Sokombela said. Despite the High Court ruling, the Agsa found the airline awarded the contract.

“So, they just disregarded a court order?” the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, asked.