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Date published 07.08.2017

FINANCE Minister Malusi Gigaba said last week South African Airways’ new CEO, Vuyani Jarana, currently head of Vodacom’s business division, will be instrumental in stabilising the embattled national carrier and, despite having no airline experience, has a record of good results in turning around flagging enterprises. The Association of Southern African Travel Agents welcomed the appointment and pledged its support for the airline’s recovery efforts.

No start date has been set for Mr. Jarana to take up his new appointment.

ASATA Chief Executive Officer Otto de Vries said his new role could only be described as being at “a very challenging time for the national carrier… We look forward to engaging with him in his efforts to work with South Africa’s travel industry to revive the airline.”

Other than the appointment of a CEO, Minister Gigaba has also undertaken to meet the deadlines set out in the National Treasury’s 14-point action plan, released in July (‘Another plan and CEO muted for SAA’ –  TIR 360° e-news July 17, 2017). This looks set to include details of the sale of other state-owned assets to help fund the airline. Another five-year turnaround plan has been prioritised for implementation in the last quarter of 2019.

Mr. Gigaba has made it clear that SAA will not be privatised, even if a buyer could be found, but has courted more controversy by suggesting the Government Employees Pension Fund could be the source of expected additional funding required by the airline for its 2018 financial year. SAA recorded a loss of R1.4-billion in the first quarter of the current financial year and payments to creditors have been delayed.

Mr. Gigaba confirmed to parliament’s standing committee on finance last week that Dudu Myeni’s eight-year term chairing SAA expires on September 2 and her contract was not renewable.

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