As a passionate aviator I welcome the appointment of Mr. Vuyani Jarana, Vodacom Group Executive as the new CEO of SAA.
Last few years we have seen in the media how the SAA story has been panning out and that made my heart sore. I have never met him before, but from what I have heard and read about him his reputation is impressive from turning around Vodacom Africa Business Unit. It will be interesting to see how he will cope with the pressures of the new position because working in a corporate environment and government is completely different.
The way I see it the board has chosen a person from the private sector so it looks like they will appoint a COO with strong aviation background. Also I believe that SAA has a credible and capable board but they need to bring immediately 2 or 3 more people with aviation expertise to beef up the board.
IMMEDIATE TASKS FOR THE NEW CEO:
If I was Mr. Jayana I was going to first uplift the morale of the workforce and bring stability in the organisation and secondly engage and comfort the Unions to try and resolve the relevant issues affecting them. At the moment all the unions are sitting on a volcano waiting for erupt. He needs to focus on internal issues first before he looks outside, either for advice or other suggestions. He should not accommodate external pressures and avoid directing his efforts on making a good balance sheet or immediate profits but rather make it operate smoothly while ensuring it does not bleed of funds.
He should show that SAA can make money. Every South African loves and are proud of SAA, so the expectations will be very high. He must demonstrate true and fearless leadership that ensure the long term sustainability of the airline. My request to all South African fellows is that he should be given fair and ample chance to do what he knows can work to ensure the interest of the tax payer. If he allows his hands to be held the results will be more damaging for both airline and him.
FINANCE MINISTER MR GIGABA:
I fully support Mr. Gigaba’s backing and bailing out SAA. This gives confidence and message that the national carrier is here to stay to the local and international market, suppliers and business partners. As a finance minister he did his part. We showed that we love and have confidence in our flag carrier.
SAA has so much potential for South Africa and the African continent with the best routes and reputation. It needs to cancel the routes that are not making money and take back the ones that can make money. Our flights are always full and the people support the national carrier. We are the gateway to Africa, have the best workforce and experienced executives. We have some of the best MROs and all the equipment but all we need is one direction.
At the moment the new CEO needs support from everyone and the people of South Africa are counting on his reputation. I am sure he will have a strong, supportive team around him, ample space to execute his duties. I have all the confidence that he can deliver and be seen to move in the right direction.
With the above I would like to believe that once he puts everything together in the true spirit of professionalism and work ethics he has all the experience, reputation and caliber to turn around SAA in reasonable time.