As South Africa’s national carrier, now more commonly referred to as South African Aircraze SAA), continues to crumble under shoddy management, the vultures are ready to pick at the decaying bones.
Airlink says it is ready to take over the services of SAA’s Johannesburg-Brazzaville route.
Airlink MD and CEO, Rodger Foster says they are already in conversation with SAA about some of the national carrier’s loss-making routes and the possibility of Airlink operating some of those routes are under discussion.
“I can comfortably say that Brazzaville (capital to the Republic of the Congo) is one of the routes on Airlink’s radar screen and, in all probability, Airlink will be providing the services to Brazzaville in the near future,” Foster told Tourism Update.
The tourism website reports SAA has confirmed it will introduce network changes on the domestic and regional segments of its route network.
Airlink is already designated to fly to Brazzaville, says Foster, and other destinations will follow shortly. “There are several other destinations – particularly in central and West Africa – that Airlink could operate in terms of our franchise relationship with SAA,” Rodger confirms.
The general theme, says Foster, is that certain central African and West African destinations do not make sense for SAA, and these will most likely be served by Airlink. “SAA will not be rationalising all routes within these regions as we understand that several routes remain sustainably viable for SAA,” Foster says.
Meanwhile labour union Solidarity says SAA, “which was once a sustainable venture”, is now nothing but yet another ailing institution that has crumbled under poor management.
Deon Reyneke, Deputy General Secretary of the Aviation and Defence Industry at Solidarity, contends that the SAA’s financial quandary could be attributed to a lack of leadership and accountability within management. “SAA’s history testifies to ill-considered and uncalled-for expenditure that does not contribute to the sustainable growth of the airline,” Reyneke said.
According to Reyneke, government’s plan to relinquish profitable Telkom shares worth R10 billion in a bid to save SAA makes no economic sense. “If government does not cease its financial assistance and intervene purposefully in the management of SAA, it would be pouring huge sums of money into a bottomless pit,” Reyneke warned.