Pilot association bolts to SAA CEO's defence

The South African Airways Pilots’ Association – a group of pilots working at the national carrier – have given SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana their unqualified endorsement as the man best equipped to steer the airline out of its financial troubles.

Jarana led a delegation who told Parliament in November that the national carrier would need R3.5bn by the end of March if it were to continue procuring goods and services.

In September, Kempton Express reported that six senior pilots at SAA had tendered their resignations to the utility at around the same time. The carrier has also opted to rent out its pilots and crew staff to other carriers as a cost-cutting mechanism.

But SAAPA said in a statement that Jarana was the right person for the job of steering the national carrier back to financial wellness.

"Since the arrival of Mr Jarana in November 2017, he has made some important and crucial interventions. A few executives and managers have been suspended and terminated. Procurement contracts are being reviewed, reassessed and renegotiated," said the statement.

The statement credits Jarana for addressing challenges at SAA Technical and in its Operations division. Over the last few years, the statement continued, SAAPA has made several proposals to SAA management to contribute to lowering SAA’s operating costs.

"By implementing these measures, we will realise cumulative savings over three years that will amount to R313m by the end of the 2019-20 financial year.

"This has been achieved through a voluntary reduction in pilot headcount and salary increases that were not only below the industry norm, but also less than the rest of SAA staff," the statement said.

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