Trade unions the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) have welcomed the resignation of SAA director Martin Kingston. The two unions also reiterated their call for the rest of the cash-strapped state-owned airline's board to quit.
Kingston conformed his resignation from the flag carrier's board to Bloomberg on Friday evening, saying there was "no need" for him to be on the board in the wake of the appointment of business rescue practitioners.
His resignation comes six weeks after the airline was placed into business rescue, and as the government is scrambling to find R2bn in funding. The R2bn was supposed to form part of a larger R4bn finance package to keep the airline afloat. The remaining R2bn was set to be supplied by private finance institutions and would be guaranteed by the state. The business rescue practitioners, in previous statements, had been careful to say that proposals to turn around the airline were dependent on additional funding being made available.
In a joint statement on Friday Numsa and Sacca said they viewed Kingston's resignation as a "positive step".
"We call on the rest of the board to do the same and resign immediately. This board has been directly involved in the destruction of SAA and it is because of them that SAA has now been placed under voluntary business rescue."
The two unions criticised the state for not having yet sourced the R2bn in funding, which was first announced on December 5, 2019. "From that moment when the decision was taken, the minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, should have taken steps to ensure that money was made available for operations at SAA in the months of January and February 2020, but he failed to do so."
The two unions said that still believed that under the right leadership the airline could be turned around, and again called for SAA's former CEO Vuyani Jarana to play a role in the business rescue process. Jarana resigned from his position as CEO in June 2019, saying that uncertainty about funding and slow decision making were delaying the airline's turnaround strategy.