The uncommercial traveller in hard times
SAA is little Oliver himself, holding his empty bowl up to Mr Bumble: ‘Please, sir, I want some more’
Fairy tales were invented to keep kids in line and, perhaps, offer some wisdom that they might draw on in their lives.
So, Little Red Riding Hood was a cautionary tale about forests, wolves and grandmothers who were not what they were supposed to be.
Sleeping Beauty offered a morality tale on wickedness, thorns, witches and the perils of unkempt gardens.
The fairy tale of our times is SAA, declared last week to be no longer under business rescue.
It has all the drama, pathos and ingredients of a morality tale. It is soaked in hope, incompetence, fear, greed, naked ambition and hopeless nostalgia.
The SAA fairy tale has wolves, poisoned apples, evil woodcutters and a couple of ineffective princes who came to save the princess locked up in the gingerbread house but who ended up falling on their swords.
Whatever caution or moral the SAA story might have had to offer seems to have been lost as more billions are diverted to save it.
However many other countries have shed the considerable burden of funding a struggling, pared-to-the-bone, money-losing state-owned airline, SA seems hellbent on going in just the other direction, as if sheer force of will can alter its compass course.
The SAA story is less of a fairy tale than the title of a Charles Dickens novel. But which one? Great Expectations? The Uncommercial Traveller? The Gaslighter, sorry, The Lamplighter? Hard Times? Bleak House?
No, there can only be one Dickens novel about SAA and that is Oliver Twist.
For the airline is little Oliver himself, holding his empty bowl up to the (aptly named) Mr Bumble: "Please, sir, I want some more."
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