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New Executive Positions at SAA include Permanent CEO

After the failed deal between South African Airways and the Takatso Consortium as equity partners, the airline is now searching for a permanent executive to lead them forward. An interim board has been in charge of the airline for the past three years.

SAA has recently advertised five interim executive management positions: Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Human Capital Officer, South African Airways Technical CEO, and CEO of its catering service subsidiary, Airchefs

“The filling of these posts is a positive… step aimed at providing organizational stability and predictable direction of the growth plans and expansion plans currently being pursued, ” said the interim board of directors chairperson, Derek Hanekom.

In the last three years, SAA was managed by an interim executive team. They were responsible for leading the airline until a Strategic Equity Partner (SEP), which was expected to be Takatso, could come on board. However, this never happened.

In December 2019, South African Airways (SAA) was placed under business rescue to restore confidence in the airline, protect its assets, and restructure it into a stronger and more sustainable entity that could attract an equity partner.

In May 2022, John Lamola became SAA's interim CEO, taking over from Thomas Kgokolo, who had left the airline the previous month. Kgokolo filled the interim CEO position after SAA emerged from a business rescue in April 2021.

“The interim executive management team has admirably rebuilt the airline as it emerged from business rescue, with the understanding that their posts would remain interim positions until a new controlling shareholder appoints its management team,” said Hanekom.

SAA’s financial statements were presented to the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces in December 2023 after a lengthy delay by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. The reports showed that SAA incurred a combined R23.5 billion loss over the four years. This included before-tax losses of R6.5 billion in 2018/19, R5.7 billion in 2019/20, R7.6 billion in 2020/21 and R3.7 billion in 2021/22.

Despite the findings, SAA interim chair Derek Hanekom and interim CEO John Lamola claimed in the airline’s 2022 annual report that SAA was in a favourable equity position. “The directors are satisfied that SAA can continue to operate as a going concern. Therefore, the consolidated annual financial statements were prepared on this basis,” they said.

Despite all the talk, the question remains: Is it not time to end SAA once and for all, as it is nothing more than a tax-draining entity?



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