Cheryl Carolus. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Cheryl Carolus. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

Sikonathi Mantshantsha’s column, "SA Airways in a nosedive" (Between the Chains, November 9-15), refers.

It reminded me that stupidity is defined as repeating the same mistake but expecting a different outcome. That is exactly what the finance minister is doing by trying to keep SA Airways (SAA) airborne. In fact, the airline is so indebted it is not worth saving; it has little in the way of tangible assets; and most of the aircraft it uses are leased.

Its other subsidiaries, Mango and SA Express, are competitors with different management structures and staff, and this has added to its liabilities. They should have been merged with the parent company, increasing efficiency and reducing administrative costs, yet this is now futile — bearing in mind that SAA’s liabilities exceed R30bn.

The death knell was sounded back in 2012 when Cheryl Carolus, the competent chair of SAA, and six other respected board members resigned in protest because the then minister of public enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, turned a deaf ear to the board of directors’ recommendations. After that it was downhill all the way.

The economic reality is that the national carrier is beyond salvation — it couldn’t be given away for free. The sensible alternative is to place the airline in liquidation and sell the trademark to a really brave entrepreneur in the hope it will once again hightail it to Europe and beyond.

Ted O’Connor Albertskroon

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