Ques­tion of clip­ping SAA’s wings

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Yolanda Palezweni and Siyabonga Se­sant

South African Air­ways should be shut down, ac­cord­ing to fi­nance min­is­ter Tito Mboweni, who was speak­ing at an in­vestor con­fer­ence in New York on Fri­day.

Mboweni re­port­edly noted that de­ci­sions over the fu­ture of the em­bat­tled state car­rier were ul­ti­mately not un­der his con­trol, but that it was dif­fi­cult to see a turn­around path for the strug­gling air­line.

“It’s loss-mak­ing, we are un­likely to sort out the sit­u­a­tion, so my view would be close it down,” Mboweni said.

In May, SAA re­ported losses of R5.7bn over the past fi­nan­cial year, while Mboweni, in his medium-term bud­get pol­icy state­ment last week, said that air­line would re­ceive R5bn through a spe­cial ap­pro­pri­a­tion bill to set­tle debt re­deem­ing be­tween now and March 2019.

We took to the streets of Nel­son Man­dela Bay to ask peo­ple if they thought the cash­strapped air­line should be pri­va­tised or closed down. And if nei­ther, what should be done?

MLA MTAMBO, 35, from Durban, said: “Mil­lions [of rands] have gone miss­ing in that com­pany and it’s not the first bailout and def­i­nitely not the last. They must close it down be­cause no in­vestor would want to buy the com­pany. They need to deal with the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for SAA be­ing in this state.”

MIL­LI­CENT DAVIDS, 57, from Uiten­hage, said: “I’m con­cerned over the job losses. Some of the SAA staff come from the Eastern Cape [which is] al­ready fac­ing high lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment. I think pri­vatis­ing the busi­ness would be the best op­tion for the sake of the em­ploy­ees.”

BULELWA MENZE, 32, from Walmer, said: “It would be bet­ter if they sell and not close it down. There are bread­win­ners who work [there]. It’s a lot of money that they are go­ing to in­ject into the busi­ness again. Those bil­lions could be used to cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties for un­em­ployed youth in this coun­try.”

JOOHIUM KORTMANN, 66, who was trav­el­ling for the first time to SA from Ger­many, said: “I hope they’re not clos­ing down this af­ter­noon – they have to wait un­til I get home first! The ser­vice was fan­tas­tic. It shouldn’t be closed down be­cause that would be a dis­as­ter for staff.”

CYRIL JANSEN, 36, from Bloe­men­dal, said: “With the new [SAA] lead­er­ship, the old habits still ex­ist. If they [gov­ern­ment] give away more money, they’re only treat­ing the symp­toms, not the cause. They must con­sider the price of keep­ing the busi­ness or sell it to some­one who will keep it sus­tain­able.”

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