JOHANNESBURG. 18 June 2019. South African Airways (SAA) has noted with deep sense of disappointment comments attributed to the airline's pilots’ association, South African Airways Pilots’ Association (SAAPA) on the appointment of Ms Zukisa Ramasia as the acting Group CEO. These statements could hurt the airline more as the aviation industry is extremely sensitive to negative sentiment, especially around business continuity.
The comments made are most unhelpful in the current climate the airline finds itself. Such statements are unnecessary, opportunistic and laden in hypocrisy.
Whilst the comments are professionally disparaging against Ms Ramasia, on close examination, they appear to suggest a vote of no confidence against the Board. This is an attempt to usurp the Board’s authority and responsibility and must be rejected.
Ms Ramasia is the most senior and experienced executive at SAA and before her acting appointment, occupied one of the critical portfolios, the airline's global operations. In addition, she was a natural choice to act on occasions when the former CEO (Vuyani Jarana) was away. She was never found wanting. Those who criticize her have not even allowed her reasonable space to perform her duties and deemed it necessary to attack her after she has assumed her new role for less than a week. The claims about her lack of skills and therefore suitability are both baseless and premature.
The position adopted by SAAPA gives rise to the suspicion that they represent an anti-transformation agenda and this easily finds expression, even under transitional arrangements when SAA is moving with speed to find a permanent CEO. We are disappointed but not surprised.
SAA has created an enabling environment of engagement with all its internal stakeholders, especially labour unions. It is disconcerting that the framework and platforms for engagement have been ignored.
SAAPA’s comments are not helping but hurting the airline. They create market anxiety associated with leadership instability at the airline. The ultimate victim is the airline and all its ordinary employees caused by incessant assaults on the brand.
SAA has too many challenges and appeals to all concerned to desist from making threats of embarking on industrial action. We cannot condone anything that seeks to diminish the airline’s chances to compete and significantly hurt its commercial interests.
Management, labour and employees in general must avoid any distraction and focus on the implementation of the strategy. It is in the interests of all at SAA to work towards the recovery of the airline, and not its demise.
SAA calls on SAAPA to reconsider its stance and urges the rest of the labour unions to participate in constructive engagements and contribute towards finding lasting solutions for the airline.