by Captain Grant Back, Chairperson of SAAP – 19 June 2019
Recent developments at SAA, including the appointment of the General Manager of Operations as interim CEO, are cause for profound distress and concern.
Whilst SAA made some progress under outgoing CEO Vuyani Jarana, some of the most crucial issues remain unresolved. As a result, our airline has been rendered all but dysfunctional.
The simple truth is that SAA will not survive unless critical operational and technical deficiencies are immediately addressed by a competent leadership team.
SAA needs an interim CEO with the appropriate experience and financial acumen to successfully run a major airline. Unfortunately, Ms. Ramasia is not that person
Furthermore, many members of the current executive management team in place predate the appointment of Mr. Jarana as CEO. It is the same team that navigated SAA into its current untenable position.
We have written to the Board to express our dismay at the appointment of Ms. Ramasia and the retention of SAA’s underperforming management team. We are scheduled to meet with the Board this week in an attempt to resolve the crisis at SAA.
Significantly, we are canvassing SAA Pilots Association members on the appropriate action to take. At this stage, we cannot rule out embarking on lawful industrial action – for the first time in our 80-year history – to force the necessary changes at SAA.
SAA pilots will not sit back while the cycle of deterioration is allowed to continue. Like other unions, we have been forced to draw a line in the sand and to prepare to take action.
Any action we decide upon will not be taken lightly. Our intention is not to add to the airline’s woes; it is to stop the further wastage of taxpayer’s money and, ultimately, to put SAA on the path to recovery.
We have also made it clear to the Board and the government that we will not accept the scapegoating of pilots that became prevalent in the Dudu Myeni era.
The pilots of SAA perform an essential role in the airline, and the success of SAA is crucial to us. We are prepared to fight for the future of the airline that so many of us have dedicated our professional lives to.