Chisom Jenniffer Okoye
2 minute read
7 Feb 2020
8:06 pm

Ramaphosa slams SAA domestic routes cuts

Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

SAA 'enables people to move around the country and we would like SAA to remain a robust and successful airline', the president said.

File image.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday slammed the cutting of South African Airways routes, saying there had been no consultation on the matter.

Just before he hopped onto his flight to the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, he said a minister would make a further statement about the recent announcement by the rescue practitioners.

“We are not in agreement with what the rescue practitioners have come up with that domestic flights should be cancelled,” Ramaphosa told journalists.

“We want to find out what the rationale is and we want to have a discussion with them because SAA is not only a great symbol for the country but it is also an economic enabler, it enables people to move around the country and we would like SAA to remain a robust and successful airline.

“That is why we took the decision not to close SAA, but to ensure it is revamped, is resuscitated and it starts operating positively.”

Ramaphosa’s statement came after the state-owned airline’s joint business rescue practitioners (BRPs) comprising Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana announced on Thursday their decision to cut all domestic routes, with the exception of the route between Johannesburg and Cape Town, on 29 February.

They also said apart from the domestic routes, 11 regional and international routes will also be cancelled at the end of February.

Unimpressed with this move were the workers unions affiliated to SAA, including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) who issued a joint statement condemning the “unlawful” and “unfair” retrenchments that were expected to follow suit.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said neither union was consulted about the decision beforehand, which was a prerequisite of the Labour Relations Act.

“Instead of consultation, labour was merely informed of this decision and its devastating consequences in respect of job losses. The BRPs even had the audacity to release the press statement announcing their decision, while we were still in the meeting discussing details,” said Hlubi-Majola.

She said many issues within the embattled airline had not been addressed, including corrupt contracts not being suspended and management officials still operating despite corruption allegations “to the further detriment of SAA”.

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