A South African Airways Airbus. Picture: SAA
A South African Airways Airbus. Picture: SAA

Parliament’s finance committee has resolved to apply to the office of the speaker of the National Assembly to have a section of its meeting on Thursday with South African Airways (SAA) executives closed to the media.

It is envisaged that only those sections of the meeting that deal with market-sensitive issues will be closed.

The DA has objected to the resolution.

"The committee is clear that the public has a vested in the performance of SAA, especially since the government bailouts for SAA are ultimately funded by the taxpayer and the company is ultimately owned by the public. SAA, therefore, has to answer on its quarterly performance in committee meetings that are open to the public," the resolution adopted on Tuesday said.

"However, the committee is acutely aware of how competitive the airline industry is and believes that it is not fair to expect SAA to report on market-sensitive issues in the public domain that would serve to advantage its competitors. The privately owned airlines are not, after all, required to report market-sensitive issues in the public domain.

"Hence, while SAA is a state-owned company and answerable to the public, it is operating in a market economy just like any privately owned airline and its reporting to Parliament should not undermine its prospects of doing better than its competitors."

The resolution also expressed the view that the committee was likely to get more comprehensive and clearer answers to some of the more sensitive questions about SAA’s performance and plans in a closed meeting in which SAA representatives were not concerned about what their competitors might glean about them. This would probably help the committee be more effective in its oversight role.