Friday, January 18, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: SAA defers presentation of turnaround plan to March as NTM embarks on a strike demanding recognition.

SAA logoThe new board of South African Airways (SA) has deferred the presentation of their planned turnaround strategy to March 2013, after being tasked to come up with proposal by December 2012 as part of prerequisite conditions to its USD600million bail out from the South African government, granted last year in October.

Mayihlome Tshwete, spokesperson for the Department of Public Enterprises, the governmental department responsible for South African Airways, said in an interview with BusinessTravelNow that:
We are currently addressing SAA’s business model to ensure the airline becomes an independent and profitable entity. We are convinced we can turn the airline around. Hard questions will need to be asked though and people will be held accountable,” he said.

The South African national carrier came under fire again recently for receiving an additional USD64million from the Treasury, needed to secure Jet A1 fuel thereby allaying potentially disastrous flight cancellations during the festive season.

SAA's Airways Park, Johannesburg
SAA HQ - Airways Park, Johannesburg
In other SAA related news, the National Transport Movement (NTM) allied to NATAWU (the National Transport and Allied Workers Union) today embarked on a strike following a dispute with the board of SAA regarding recognition of the Union.

The newly formed NATAWU originally planned to strike on Friday 11 January but its was called off after SAA CEO Vuyusile Kona negotiated a last-minute suspension of the union’s strike in support of its attempt to gain recognition at the airline.

However, shortly after the meeting between NATAWU and Kona, SAA issued a statemment in which it refuted Kona's proposals and instead endorsed the findings of the South African Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), a dispute resolution body, which stated that that the union, having only 1'111 members against the required 1'220, failed to meet the required 30% quota in order to be recognized by SAA.

The NTM will today picket SAA headquarters at Airways Park in Johannesburg, and has warned that the strike would continue up until SAA recognizes the union unilaterally.

SAA says it has put contingency plans in place.