South African Airways is on a hiring spree for leaders

  • South African Airways (SAA) is now moving away from its interim executive team as it looks to begin speeding up its recovery.
  • Minister Pravin Gordhan says that filling permanent executive positions is important to get the airline back in successful condition.
  • SAA is looking to open more international routes and buy more aircraft in the near future.

South African Airways (SAA), the government-owned carrier, is on the lookout for new executives as it prepares to solidify itself as a sustainable business in the future, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.

Last month SAA broke out of its long-term deal to be purchased in part by private company group the Takatso Consortium, with Gordhan at that time saying that the airline had come a long way since it was ground to a halt and worth almost nothing during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South African government now believes the national carrier is worth more than R6.5 billion in totality, but while it is now flying to new places worldwide like Brazil, the entity has yet to form a permanent management structure.

Gordhan says that government is now working towards moving away from an interim management team to something more solid.

“We are grateful for the sterling work of the interim executive management team as it has laid a solid foundation for the airline to scale even greater heights,” said the public enterprises minister.

“The executive management positions that the SAA Board has determined must be filled are a critical component of repositioning SAA as an airline of choice for the flying public. The skills and the expertise that these roles entail will give the airline strategic agility and make it possible for SAA to continue its growth trajectory,” he added.

Gordhan and government have lofty plans to complete the revitalisation of the carrier, ones that will require serious talent involved. Plans include buying more aircraft for SAA, serving both domestic and international flights. International flights mean big planes, with big engines that cost a lot of money.

Government also wants to improve management systems within the airline, while recovering old routes that SAA was forced to close while it entered business rescue and was bleeding cash.

“The work that has already gone into SAA signifies a very clear strategic choice that the government has made, and that choice is to leverage SAA as a national strategic asset to grow our economy and boost job opportunities,” said Gordhan.

“The nearly 2,000 current SAA employees are ready to continue delivering the best customer experience, along with an impeccable safety record that sets SAA apart,” he concluded.

SAA is expected to begin flying directly to Perth, Australia again at some point this month.

While Gordhan clearly has a lot of hope for the full revival of SAA, the government’s track record is not a glowing one for public enterprises. March also saw the Philippine port operator ICTSI contracted by South Africa to operate the Durban Pier 2 port, the largest in the country, after systemic failures by public entities rendered it inoperable, costing the economy billions.

[Image – CC BY-SA 2.0 Alan Wilson on Flickr]


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