South African Airways heads back to Durban. Image: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP

Public Enterprises directed to conclude interim SAA board

Cabinet was briefed on progress made by the Department of Public Enterprises in implementing the SAA Business Rescue Plan


South African Airways heads back to Durban. Image: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP

Cabinet has directed the Department of Public Enterprises to finalise the appointment of an interim board at South African Airways (SAA), as it undergoes a massive restructuring. This as workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South Africa Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) are at loggerheads with the airline’s management.

Both Sacca and Numsa workers are outraged over SAA management’s failure to pay them their salaries, despite Finance Minister Tito Mboweni having approved the R10.5 billion required to complete its business rescue process.

They demonstrated outside SAA headquarters in Kempton Park on Thursday, 3 December 2020, claiming they haven’t been paid their salaries for eight months.

Cabinet has also directed the department to conclude the appointment of the Strategic Equity Partner for the restructured SAA.

In a statement, Cabinet said it had been briefed on the progress regarding the implementation of the SAA Business Rescue Plan and how the allocation of the R10.5 billion will be effectively used to ensure the successful implementation of the business rescue plan.

“Cabinet appreciated the progress and implored the DPE to hasten the implementation of key initiatives to ensure the emergence of a new restructured, efficient and techno-savvy national airline,” spokesperson Phumla Williams said.

SAA was placed under business rescue in December 2019 and under the business rescue plan, a total of 2 700 SAA workers face the axe.

Public Enterprises sympathetic to plight of SAA staffers

In a statement, the department has expressed sympathy towards employees who haven’t been paid but also called for patience while it seeks solutions.

“Government believes the key to solving the difficulties facing SAA is the finalisation of the business rescue process,” the department said.

“That is why the department is working with Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) to find the best restructuring solutions for the airlines, including payment of salaries”

It said that as one of the key focus areas, SAA has looked into major contracts relating to logistics, Information Technology, transactional advisory services, ground handling and security.

“The DPE is aware that the airline took disciplinary steps against the employees implicated. This resulted in termination of employment for some senior and executive managers involving in misconduct,”

Department of Public Enterprises

Thirteen other employees were found guilty of misconduct and were served with final written warnings while nine were dismissed and another four resigned.

“All stakeholders, employees and union members are encouraged to come forward and provide credible information to the Department about instances of possible corruption, collusion, theft or fraud, that have occurred within the airline and amongst its service providers,” the department concluded.