New job for former SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia

Former SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia. (PIC: Flickr)
Former SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia. (PIC: Flickr)

The former acting CEO of South African Airways, Zuks Ramasia, has been appointed the new head of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (Barsa), from April 17.

SAA, which is currently in business rescue, announced last week that Ramasia will go into "early retirement" in April at her own request. She is also the chair of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa and a director on the board of Aviation Co-ordination Services. 

Ramasia takes over at Barsa from June Crawford, whose term ends in April. Crawford will continue to serve on the board.

News of her appointment comes two days after Transnet announced that the former interim CEO of SA Express, Siza Mzimela, will head up its freight rail operations. The SA Express board on Monday announced that Mzimela would be leaving pursue other opportunities.

In her new role at Barsa, Ramasia will provide a voice for local and international airlines operating in South Africa, and represent its members on industry forums to deal with matters affecting the industry.

The greatest challenge facing the airline industry at the moment is how it will weather the upheaval caused by countries locking their borders and cutting down on domestic travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

As Fin24 reported on Thursday, that the International Air Transport Association projects that the impact of the pandemic on the SA airline industry could amount to 10.7 million fewer passengers transported and a loss of R40 billion in revenue.

Barsa says it is working with all roleplayers in the industry, including Airports Company SA, the ATNS and the Department of Health to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic in a coherent manner. According to its chair Carla da Silva, Ramasia's expertise and years of experience in the industry would ensure that Barsa's involvement in the aviation industry continues to grow.

UPDATE: Ramasia told Fin24 a few days after her appointment that the decision to transition to Barsa from SAA presents her with the opportunity to contribute significantly in the shaping of the aviation industry at large in South Africa.

Empowering women is, for example, close to her heart and she sees it as a necessity to promote a diverse skill culture and for the development of society.

“This role would include engaging on policy shaping with government, the promotion of economic growth, development of tourism, job creation, facilitating a safe, secure passenger and cargo operating environment on a macro-level and more,” she explains.

"Personal development is continuous. It's never too late to learn new things from colleagues, team and employees at large. Be part of the change you want to see, lead by example, walk the talk and be available to receive feedback from employees.”

Ramasia said, undoubtedly, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating across the globe. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) foresees aviation industry revenue losses, in a scenario of severe travel restrictions lasting for three months, experiencing a 38% year-on-year fall in global traffic leading to lost revenues of $252 billion.

"Domestic and international passenger movement, non-essential trade and tourism have virtually halted since the lockdown was instituted and will continue to do so until this period comes to an end," she said.

Asked what she learnt during her time at SAA, she said without a doubt, she wishes that SAA will rise again and keep flying the South African flag high. 

“SAA is part of the South African aviation eco system. It needs continued support from SAA’s shareholders; the restoration of SAA’s weak balance sheet; and continued development of an optimal route network.

Furthermore, high asset, equipment, maintenance and workforce costs must be addressed, and productivity increased in all parts of the business.

“These can be achieved with the commitment of SAA’s shareholder in supporting the business rescue practitioners, leadership, valued employees, and committed suppliers and creditors,” in her view. 

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