THICK EDGE OF THE WEDGE
PETER BRUCE: Cutting loose SAA albatross will be brutal
Ethiopian Airlines is doing brilliantly and might itself be an ideal African partner if the conditions were right. Don’t count on it though
So, thanks to Carol Paton’s front-page lead in Business Day on Wednesday, we now know that South African Airways (SAA) is looking for R21.7bn over the next three years to "turn itself around". Cue loud laughter. Another breathtaking amount of money for an airline that has already squandered R55bn in government bail-outs. In any reasonable world it would have by now been closed down or given away. Not in an SA governed by the ANC. I have lost track of the number of public enterprises ministers who have sworn this or that bail-out would be the last. The last time SAA made money was in 2010 — former CEO Khaya Ngqula left the airline with money in the bank. Ngqula hired a fearsome Canadian consultancy, which pored over every invoice, every coffee, every taxi ride, every drop of fuel, and decided whether or not to pay it. It was brutal. Ngqula, like almost every CEO before and after him, loathed the SAA pilots. He thought they were spoiled. One route, Johannesburg to Paris, was cancelled...
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