South African anchors in Africa, but eyes Asia

In this current air cargo environment any idea of what lays ahead is frustratingly difficult and perhaps even more so for the cargo division of South African Airways (SAA), for not only does it face the challenge of a global market downturn, but internal uncertainties as well. But with an airline turnaround plan in the works and a successful cargo division with a sensible strategy to tap Africa’s burgeoning trade, things are looking up. Donald Urquhart reports from Johannesburg, South Africa.

but eyes Asia South African anchors in Africa

For SAA Cargo its future is first and foremost being substantially shaped from within, as the stateowned carrier grapples with devising a turnaround plan to reverse growing debt and management uncertainty in order to inject vitality and a new strategic vision into the 79 year-old carrier.

Addressing the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises – effectively the carrier’s owner – on the airline’s annual report and financial statements recently, SAA representatives, led by acting chairperson Duduzile Myeni, said the strategy would take SAA into the next 20 years. “I urge you to have faith in the national carrier,” Myeni implored his political overseers.

A turnaround plan will be crafted from the best elements of about nine or ten proposals compiled over the past decade by the carrier. The committee was also told that candidates had been shortlisted for the position of SAA CEO, a position vacated through a series of resignations and terminations in the highly politicised job.

Speaking at the committee hearing, acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout said that SAA had lost ZAR12 billion (US$1.32 billion) in capital over the past 10 years, of which at least ZAR9 billion was lost through fuel hedging, he said.