Johannesburg - Acting SA Express chief executive Siza Mzimela has told the state capture inquiry that former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba tried to force SA Airways to abandon a route to a Gupta-linked airline.
Mzimela, who was SAA chief executive between 2010 and 2012 during Gigaba and his predecessor Barbara Hogan’s tenure as public enterprises ministers, said the former ANC Youth League president summoned then SAA chairperson Cheryl Carolus to a meeting to discuss the national carrier’s abandoning of the Johannesburg-Mumbai route.
She said when she assumed the role of SAA chief executive in 2010 she found out that there were concerns about the board’s recommendation to close Johannesburg-Mumbai route.
The board wanted Mzimela to review was the Johannesburg-Mumbai route.
According to Mzimela, some of the concerns were raised by former SAA board member Teddy Daka, who stated that he was worried about the pressure that was put on the board to make a quick decision on the route.
Daka, Mzimela testified, told her that the decision was being rushed and special board meetings were called to discuss the closure of the route.
She said the route was not profitable but there were other international routes that were not also profitable.
“It was not the highest loss-making route,” Mzimela said.
Jet Airways wanted to take over the route, which SAA flew four times a week, and fly seven days a week, a proposal which commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo described as strange.