Business

Gigaba sets up SAA task team

Sapa

A task team has been set up to advise on a turnaround strategy for South African Airways, says Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Madelené Cronje, M&G)

It was "pivotal" that the airline be immediately stabilised, he told reporters on Monday in Kempton Park.

The briefing followed the national airline's annual general meeting.

The task team would include newly appointed SAA chairperson Vuyisile Kona and the CEOs of South African Express and Mango.

It would have to report back to Gigaba by December 15 on the "critical success factors" needed to turn the airline around.

SAA reported a R1.3-billion operating loss for the year ended March 31.

Gigaba said the airline had performed below expectations for the financial year and had fared more poorly than its global peers.

The airline reported R128 million in irregular expenditure – an increase from R85 million the previous year.

'Weak internal controls'
Gigaba said this was concerning as it "reflects weak internal controls".

He was also concerned about wasteful expenditure of R4-million for the year.

SAA CEO Siza Mzimela and two other senior managers, corporate affairs general manager Theuns Potgieter, and general manager for legal, risk, and compliance Sandra Coetzee, resigned from the airline earlier this month.

This came barely two weeks after most of the board – including chairperson Cheryl Carolus – also quit, saying there was a lack of support from its shareholder, the public enterprises department.

Gigaba did not consider this a problem, as the board was due to be replaced after the AGM and "a fresh perspective was required to stabilise the airline".

"I am confident ... that there is absolutely no crisis," he said, adding that SAA had received over R10-billion in support from government in the past 10 years.

In early October, the national treasury announced that SAA had been given a R5-billion government guarantee for a recapitalisation exercise. This would enable it to borrow from financial markets and to buy new aircraft. – Sapa

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