A South African Airways Airbus A320. Picture: SAA
A South African Airways Airbus A320. Picture: SAA

I flew from London to Johannesburg on SAA last weekend and was extremely impressed by the standard of the aircraft, and the service and professionalism of the entire crew.

With a smile I was offered a copy of this newspaper. As I sipped an excellent SA red, the headlines carrying news of SAA’s travails left me with a far stronger taste of irony than cabernet.

That evening, I chanced upon a television interview with the CEO of Delta airlines. He recounted how during its bankruptcy one of the most important things was to communicate to Delta employees that it was not “their fault”, or that they were “too expensive or unproductive”.

He correctly (in my view) pointed out that any recovery Delta might achieve (and ultimately did) would largely depend on the self-confidence and pride of its employees.

I cannot help but feel for the people of SAA. They have soldiered on for years, despite the burden of constant negativity, and have retained the ability to delight the customer.

Restructuring will need to take place, but first and foremost SAA has been let down by its governmental owner and deserves better.

Paul Friedlander
London

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