JOHANNESBURG – Minister for Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan yesterday announced firm changes at national carrier SAA.
These will include addressing the airline's cost-base, stopping all fraudulent contracts, disciplining and instituting appropriate civil and criminal actions against all persons inside and outside the business who are implicated in corruption, and preparing SAA for a strategic equity partner in the near future.
“This is the path to ensure the future sustainability of the airline,” he said. Gordhan said SAA was a good airline but a poorly run business at which bad decisions were made by previous boards and management, including allowing corruption to incapacitate it.
“The ministry will place the board and management on notice to discharge, with a greater sense of urgency and dedication, their professional duties to identify and implement immediate interventions,” he said yesterday.
Against this background, he said the immediate priority for the Ministry of Public Enterprises was to stabilise SAA financially and through a rigorous process of cost-reduction and commercial re-orientation, to turn it into an airline that is financially and operationally sustainable.
He said the recent appropriation of R5 billion in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement was a further expression of this intent.
The firm hand at the till comes as newly appointed Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni said at an investment conference in New York on Saturday that SAA should be closed down because it could not be turned around.