The dramatic deterioration of the South African Airways (SAA) started when the once sound and profitable airline was subjected to its first big ‘clean-up’ twenty years ago under a new dispensation, Adv. Anton Alberts, the Freedom Front Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on public enterprises says.
According to Adv. Alberts, the SAA’s program of affirmative action and accompanying poor management resulted in one crisis after another and from one turnaround strategy to the next.
He said that government is at present pumping millions of rand into the airline to keep it functional. Since 2002 the ongoing losses amount to R15 billion. In the 2013 financial year it suffered an operational loss of R1 billion.
“The SAA’s racist hiring policy has led to whites with expertise not being welcome at the airline any longer. A visit to the SAA’s website on which vacancies are advertised, shows that mainly affirmative action appointments is still the order of the day,” Adv. Alberts says.
He said the airline which the ANC government had inherited 20 years ago was by far the best in Africa, profitable and could boast of various international awards. This, despite the challenges and restrictions of sanctions against South Africa.
“With the lifting of sanctions, a boom was expected when international flights were resumed in the early nineties. However, the opposite occurred.
“By 1997 the airline was already in financial trouble and a comprehensive restructuring program was announced when, amongst others, the name of the airline was officially changed to the English name.
“In 2007 the airline was found guilty of price-fixing and more recently it was criticised for its policy to not appoint or train any white persons as pilots,” Adv. Alberts says.
He said a huge and honest turnaround campaign is needed to rescue the airline from being completely ruined and pa off its huge debt.
“To accomplish this, the SAA will have to let go of its racist personnel policy and appoint experts to do the work. A large personnel component of incompetent people will then not be needed. If this is not done, an emergency landing with tragic consequences is waiting to happen,” Adv. Alberts says.
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