SAA was placed in administration in December, hasn't made a profit since 2011 and is relying on state handouts. Keeping it afloat is seen by opposition parties and some analysts as a distraction for the government at a time when it needs to rescue the more crucial state power utility and reinvigorate growth in an economy set for its biggest annual contraction in nine decades.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has previously indicated the government doesn't have the money available to rescue SAA and said he would help "mobilise" funds from other sources. However, a "reprioritisation" of funds in the 2020 budget could be implemented to cover the restructuring costs, according to Gordhan.
Twenty private-sector funders, private-equity investors and partners have submitted unsolicited expressions of interest in a restructured SAA, and those are being assessed, the Department of Public Enterprises said.
Ethiopian Airlines Group is in talks with SAA over providing assistance, people familiar with the situation have said. The Addis Ababa-based carrier is seeking control, possibly in the form of a management contract, and that may be a sticking point, the people said.