SAA gets a new interim CEO

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Thomas Kgokolo was nominated for various awards. (Supplied)
Thomas Kgokolo was nominated for various awards. (Supplied)

Thomas Kgokolo has been appointed by the interim board as new interim CEO of South African Airways (SAA).

He assumed the position on 13 April, according to internal communication seen by Fin24.

His mandate is to oversee the airline's smooth transition from the business rescue process to its re-entry to the market and bring fresh leadership to the airline.

According to his profile on the website of the Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS), of which he is a director, Kgokolo is a chartered accountant and holds an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science. He joined ATNS as a board member in 2018.

He has previously served as both chief financial officer and chief risk officer at the Competition Commission. 

In the past, he was nominated for various awards, such as Top Chartered Accountant under 35 and Top 40 Outstanding Young Leaders under 40 by Destiny Man magazine.

In July 2020, it was announced that Philip Saunders was appointed as an interim CEO of SAA.

SAA has been in business rescue since December 2019. The rescue practitioners are finalising matters so that they can exit the process and hand the airline back to the interim board. A receivership has been put in place to finalise the last payments stipulated in the rescue plan over the next three years.

In addition to Kgokolo, the interim board has appointed three interim executives, namely Fikile Mhlontlo as interim chief financial officer, Mpho Letlape as interim human resources executive and Captain Sakhile Reiling as executive: operations.

UPDATE: Mashudu Raphetha, general secretary of the Dynamic People's Union of South Africa (Dypusa) said the union welcomes the newly appointed executives at SAA by the interim board of directors. He said Dypusa has been advocating "for tangible transformation and diversity" in order to reignite the national carrier.

Dypusa is a newly formed union which focuses on aviation, logistics and freight.

"We problems at SAA derive from poor management, flawed supply chain management, lack of proper financial decisions, evergreen agreements, interference by looters, complete unsustainable network optimisation, lack of proper equipment and maladministration," said Raphetha.

"SAA really needs a strong and fully functional board and executives as we navigate our way through the global and domestic economic crises and the challenges posed by Covid-19. We particularly need a board and exco that is committed to good governance, is transparent and inclusive and is able to withstand external interference."

FURTHER UPDATE: The South African Transport & Allied Workers Union (Satawu) welcomes the appointment of the interim CEO and interim executives provided that "the collective will work with all stakeholders in steering the airline towards a superior elevation".

The union said in a statement on Friday that, that it demands that both the interim executives and the interim board prioritise the payment of staff salaries at SAA and its subsidiaries. The union will soon call for a bilateral meeting with the interim executives to discuss "a programme of action for the revitalisation of the airline".

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