Carol Paton Writer at Large
Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

A claimed 84% of SAA pilots do not have faith in the management of the airline and say that it has to be replaced if business rescue is to succeed.

“The bottom line is that business rescue will only work if it begins with a fundamental change in SAA management,” Grant Back, chairperson of the SAA Pilots Association, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The association has called on the business rescue practitioners to do a skills audit of all managers and heads of department and to appoint a CEO with experience and specialised skills in conducting airline turnaround.

Back says that in a poll of its members shortly before the airline was placed into business rescue in December, 84% said they had no confidence in a number of managers from senior and executive management upwards.

“These managers are still making poor decisions at grave cost to the airline... The results of the ballot reaffirm our stance that the only way to save SAA and put it on a sustainable path is to ensure that a capable and experienced management team is put in place.  It is therefore our view that the business rescue practitioners must prioritise a thorough investigation into the conduct of the current management team and take effective corrective action. This must be done as a matter of urgency,” the statement reads.

The pilots have also asked that a retired or active pilot be appointed to the board of SAA and that flight operations are restructured.

 “We understand that the process upon which the airline is embarking on will not be an easy one. Yet we are convinced that, if done properly, it can effectively address the ongoing and crippling effects of the years of mismanagement, and put the airline back on a financially stable and sustainable trajectory,” says the statement.

patonc@businesslive.co.za