Jarana's leadership at SAA brought much-needed confidence - airline body

The Board of Airline Representatives South Africa said in a statement on Friday that it was surprised and disappointed to learn about the recent resignation of South African Airways (SAA) CEO Vuyani Jarana.

Jarana, will on Monday, be replaced by new interim CEO Zuks Ramasia. 

Jarana cited "bureaucracy and uncertainty about funding" as the reasons for tendering his resignation.

Jarana was appointed CEO in November 2017, amid high hopes that he could turn the indebted state-owned airline around. At the time of his appointment, SAA had R9.2bn in debt that was maturing on November 28, 2017.

A revised corporate plan developed under Jarana's leadership was approved by National Treasury in March 2018. It required funding of R21.7bn to see SAA breakeven by 2021.

"SAA plays such an important role in the aviation industry in South Africa and Vuyani Jarana's leadership of the national carrier over the past months has brought so much confidence for the airline's return to stability," commented Barsa CEO June Crawford.

Crawford said she had a very good working relationship with Jarana and believes he had the ability and resolve to turn SAA's fortunes around.

"I was impressed by his strategic approach to turning SAA around. He is energetic, enthusiastic and given the enormity of the task, he has the attitude of 'extraordinary circumstances needing extraordinary solutions' and it is this that the industry bought in to and supported," said Crawford.

"I am very disappointed to hear of his resignation. As Barsa, we will continue to work with the various business unit teams who Mr Jarana had inspired to give their best to the company and ensure continuous improvement and operational success."

In his resignation letter to the SAA board, Jarana mentioned uncertainty about funding and slow decision-making processes delaying the airline's turnaround strategy making him unable to assure the board and the public that the long-term turnaround strategy for the airline is achievable.

SAA must get approval from the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and Treasury to implement key decisions.

"Lines of accountability are becoming increasingly blurred about what operational decisions are in my domain, which are in the board's domain and which are in the minister's domain. Trust levels are very low impacting ways of working," he said in his letter.

According to Jarana the majority (60%) of problems at the airline are internal- within the control of management, staff, the board and the shareholder which is government. Market challenges only account for 40% of its challenges.  

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