There’s hope SAA can soar again
Government is planning to sell off shares in Telkom to fund a R10 billion injection for the airline.
South African Airways (SAA) draws flak for everything: from its service and personnel to its obviously bankrupt state. Much of that criticism is deserved but, at the same time, there are many competent, professional people working in the airline which, as international awards show, is still the best in Africa.
We report today on a secret plan to axe almost 20% of the airline’s routes, meaning about 700 local and international flights stand to be cut. Many SAA staffers, from pilots to cabin crew and office personnel, could lose their jobs – a tragedy in the present economic climate.
However, there can be no denying that strong medicine is needed if the ailing company is to be nursed back to health … and specifically to a state where it is no longer a drain on taxpayers’ money.
There has been some criticism of another tentative government plan to sell off shares in Telkom to fund a R10 billion injection for SAA, with opponents saying that a profitable parastatal or partly privatised state entity should not be used to support an unprofitable one.
But as long as that R10 billion is marked as the final bailout and as long as the harsh measures are taken, we see some light at the end of the tunnel. There is overstaffing within the airline and a number of unprofitable routes were started to satisfy government – both past and present – egos.
There is also no doubt that SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni has been a one-person financial wrecking ball: she has forced out talented and capable managers, as well as interfered in a questionable manner in aircraft fleet matters, SAA is heading for turbulence, but with a clear flight plan and steady hands at the controls, it can emerge into clear financial skies and, once again, fly high.