Struggling national carrier South African Airways needs to reduce its losses and start making money, deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas said on Wednesday.
“We expect more from the company and its leadership in this area,” said Jonas after acknowledging that the airline was making progress with its turnaround strategy involving at least R14,4bn so far in loan guarantees.
Jonas told MPs during debate on treasury’s budget that a process to finalise appointment of a board was underway and once appointed, the board would have to appoint competent executives in the vacant positions of CEO and chief financial officer, among others.
The authority over SAA’s board has fallen under national treasury since 2014.
Once the board is in place, they will speed up the company’s long-term strategy, including rationalising the government’s airline businesses.
“Once all of these are implemented, government will be in a position to consider possible support that would enable SAA to table its annual financial statements for the last two years, as a going concern,” said Jonas.
Call for privatisation
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said SAA had already had 10 turnaround strategies and he hoped this one would work.
He said the airline was bankrupt and had not been submitting financial statements, but still hoped to get more money from the treasury.
He recommended privatising SAA because, according to him, the airline had received at least R30bn in subsidies since 1990.
He also questioned why the airline was sponsoring national soccer team Bafana Bafana when it had no money.
“I would have thought that you would sponsor a team that wins now and then. They are about in 70th position on world rankings.
“Privatise so that it is no more a burden for the taxpayers of South Africa.”