South African lease and charter specialist Safair has acquired a major stake in general aviation operators National Airways (NAC) and Streamline Aviation from Lonrho for R31 million cash ($5 million).

Safair parent Imperial Group, South Africa's leading road transport leasing company, will hold a 63% stake, with the remaining 37% controlled by NAC management and Streamline Aviation's owner, Attie Nieman. Safair says that the acquisition should boost its annual turnover by more than R1 billion.

"While Safair dominates the heavy end of the aviation leasing and charter market in the country, NAC is the leader in the field of small to medium sized aircraft leasing," says Safair head of aviation leasing Ralph Boettger.

Safair, bought by Imperial for R230 million last December, is Africa's largest specialist aircraft leasing and charter company. It operates 25 aircraft, including Boeing 727-200s and MD-80s and Lockheed Martin C-130 transports. Customers include British Airways franchisee Comair, Sun Air, South African Airways (SAA) and the United Nations.

NAC operations include aircraft and helicopter sales, maintenance, charter operations and pilot training, while Streamline Aviation's charter and sales operation should also enhance Safair's market leadership. NAC managing director Brian Frankel says there will be a major effort to "extract synergies and new efficiencies made possible by the acquisition".

• SAA chairman Mafika Mkhwanazi says that its recently announced return to profit has boosted plans for a listing on the Johannesburg stock exchange.

The carrier sold a 20% stake to SAirGroup in June, while the Swissair parent has an option on a further 10% holding to be taken up this year. Shares are also due to be allocated to black empowerment groups.

Source: Flight International