It's official - South African Airways has 2 years to get its act together. Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin cracked the whip on Thursday (3rd May) and gave SAA two years to restructure and show results. Diarise the 2nd May 2009 folks, the clock is ticking.
SAA was asking government for R4bn, and eventually Erwin gave them R1.2bn (then again why should they be given anything - all the other airlines earn their own keep, why should SAA be reliant on government).
This article's author has for some time thought it paradoxical, that a government which purportedly puts the needs of the poor first, has spent billions of rands subsidising the airline industry over the last few years...high ideals merely verbalised, but never implemented - in a country with unemployment pushing 30% this literally kills people.
Erwin's words are welcomed as they put in place a plan whereby the ideals of uplifting the poor can be put into practise; however they don't go quite far enough. National government has no place running an airline where it's been proven that the private sector does a better job - witness for instance the Port Elizabeth route, whilst 1time Airline is expanding it flights to the friendly city, SAA considers the PE route to be "marginally profitable". South African Airways and its subsidiary Mango Airlines should be privatised; and the money being squandered on them diverted to creating opportunities for South Africa's poor.
Will the next two years be ones where the rubber finally hits the road for SAA? Will we see them letting go of unprofitable routes, streamling their bloated management, quitting unnecessary sponsorship advertising and focussing on getting the right people in the job rather than on getting black people in the job?
Will it work? The chances of success seem to be inversely proportional to the number of directorships their Chief Executive Officer has...as long as SAA is but one of Khaya Nqgula's 38 different directorships, can it ever get the necessary focus?
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Category : South African Airways