Despite the spin on the mooted rescue funding, the wheels are coming off SAA, putting the mockers on SA’s fiscal consolidation path. It won’t be long before SAA begs for another cash injection to pursue its grandiose equity partnership plan, risking a further downgrade. That is beside the additional funding draining tax coffers at the expense of marginalised communities — especially those without running water.

Except for skewed priorities and an inept oversight of incumbents who kowtow to the whims of white monopoly capital, the greatest stumbling block to progress is political interference, fraught with a different kind of accountability. The latter prevented former SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana from doing his job despite being lauded by stakeholders for his brand of consultative leadership to feed into the turnaround strategy he was pursuing. Since Jarana’s departure, SAA has faced enormous instability, to the point of bankruptcy attributed to malfeasance.  

Curiously, the R10.5bn allocated for the business rescue proceedings saw SA Airlink ending its alliance with SAA and changing its name to Airlink. Some of us have mistaken Airlink for a state-owned airline due to its branding being confusingly similar to the trademark of the SAA group. Add to that flight bookings going through SAA central reservations, which Airlink did to piggyback on SAA’s Voyager rewards programme.

It is interesting that SAA apparently acquired a 2.9% stake in Airlink 20 years ago. Perhaps stakeholders should tell us what value SAA derived from this shareholding in terms of enhancing its profitability, because it has been battling under the weight of huge losses despite enjoying an unfair competitive advantage through receiving direct government funding to stay afloat.

Like Eskom, SAA is an albatross to SA society, it is enmeshed in graft without legal consequences.

Morgan Phaahla, Ekurhuleni

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