The writer says it is very sad and heartbreaking to see what's happening in the aviation sector in South Africa, where everyone continues ripping off SAA. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
The writer says it is very sad and heartbreaking to see what's happening in the aviation sector in South Africa, where everyone continues ripping off SAA. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Aviation: SAA flying to a destination with no runway

By Javed Malik Time of article published Mar 4, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG – I am forced to write this article after a few months’ break.

It is very sad and heartbreaking to see what's happening in the aviation sector in South Africa, where everyone continues ripping off SAA. 

Everybody is experimenting and every day we are seeing new experiments being done at the cost of taxpayers’ money. For me it feels like SAA has become a training school for many board and executives members. 

If you don't know aviation, but you have heard it mentioned somewhere and you would like to learn, aviation is a good start. 

Then what you would do next is make a few calls to well known people to get on board the SAA gravy train, where no one cares or has any idea how to save the national resource. 

What I have observed in the past is that the SAA board has a lack of experience in the aviation sector. They claim to be masters of all trades. 

My friend has in the past bizarrely advised to take the captain of the Springbok rugby team, Siya Kolisi, and make him captain of the soccer team, Bafana Bafana, so we can start winning the Soccer World Cup as well. 

I tried to explain to him that, to my best knowledge, the soccer team and the rugby team play two different games. But he again came with a bizarre answer that both are sports. 

It’s the same when you use an intelligent sergeant to present a case to a courtroom judge, but at the same time you send the best attorney to do an operation in a theatre. It is not rocket science to understand what will happen next. 

They are both going to fail badly, because they don't represent the expertise and knowledge needed in those areas. The same exactly happened to SAA. We witnessed the last 10 failed turnaround strategies as a nation. 

Furthermore, we saw biased media using a different kind of parameter for dissimilar kinds of people in the same scenario. For example, when Eskom's chairperson resigned, I read the news with the headline, "Chairman resigned and jumped from sinking ship". 

When the powerful SAA board member resigned, in the news I saw that we lost a valuable board member. But he was not made to account for his deeds at the airline. We must make all the board/executive members accountable for what they did, because when they took those positions, they knew very well what they were putting themselves into – and what a mess they left behind.

It was not enough when we again witnessed a business rescue team cancelling flights/routes, taking unbearable decisions and flying the airline to unknown destinations where you won’t find any runway to land on. 

My humble request to the authorities is to put a very strong task team on the ground who well know ground realities and have knowledge and experience. People who can work, assist, and guide the business rescue team.  

As an optimistic and patriotic South African citizen, I hope, pray and would love to see the South African flag once again kept flying high, making us proud and seeing people not losing their jobs.

Javed Malik is an aviation expert.

BUSINESS REPORT

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