4 December 2019
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) says the unfortunate decision by Flight Centre to stop selling South African Airways (SAA) air tickets and removing all reference to it on its website, plunges the livelihoods of thousands of workers into real danger as the national carrier struggles to stay afloat in the context of a string of negative events recently; including a week-long strike and government’s growing fatigue in being asked for yet another bailout in the form of credit guarantee for commercial banks loans.
Flight Centre – one the biggest air travel agents in the country – has argued that its move comes on the back of a decision by Travel Insurance Consultant, SAA’s preferred travel insurer to cancel cover for all passengers using SAA should its flights be grounded. FEDUSA regards this decision as being totally premature and disingenuous, as decisions to ground flights has not even been communicated and will only add further pandemonium to the tensions around the national carrier. As South Africa enters the festive season, that is always expected to boost tourist revenue and add to improved economic activity, we simply cannot afford any deviations that will contribute to negative outlooks. Gambling with probabilities and the livelihood of members and personnel simply cannot be tolerated, as every attempt is made to reverse the staggering unemployment figures in the country.
However, due consideration is taken of the dire situation as SAA has struggled to pay November salaries in a way that inspires any confidence, only managing to do so in two 50% batches and postponing honouring a 5.9% wage deal that ended the strike to February next year depending on the availability of funds.
The majority of aviation specialists consider a substantial private equity stake of up to 30% as in the case of Telkom to be a viable option going especially after British billionaire Richard Branson indicated that he is willing to consider it and government hinting that SAA is open for business.
FEDUSA believes that the Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Department of Public Enterprises must provide far much more clarity and assurance on the way forward for SAA beyond the ‘radical restructuring’ statement issued at the weekend. Nonetheless, FEDUSA demands that former Board Chairperson, Dudu Myeni, all Board Members and those responsible for the downward and degrading spiral of the national carrier due to corruption, must be held accountable and criminally charged for their actions. FEDUSA remains committed to continue to support the actions to declare them delinquent as previously pronounced when the SAA crisis started escalating then under their leadership.
For interviews please contact
FEDUSA Acting General Secretary
079 696 2625
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096
Email: research @fedusa.org.za