Trade union, National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA), says the South African Airways  Technical (SAAT), a subsidiary of the South African Airways (SAA), must justify its reasons for possible job cuts, despite being given a cash injection of R1.6 billion by National Treasury last week.

NUMSA, SAAT and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) are due to meet on Thursday over the state-owned aircraft maintenance company’s Section 189 notice to unions.

In its notice, SAAT blames its woes on, among others, the cash-strapped SAA, as well as the negative financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel industry.

NUMSA’s National Spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, says SAAT needs to demostrate and justify retrenchments.

“SAA Technical will have to demonstrate that this money – which government has given to them through the Appropriations Bill, has not, or will not be able to prevent job cuts and that is the point. They have to demonstrate and justify the retrenchment,” says Hlubi-Majola.

Video: Over 2 000 SAA Technical staff face retrenchment

Plans to restart the airline

SAA interim CEO, Thomas Kgokolo, says plans to restart the airline are already under way. Kgokolo says the company will soon start the process of retraining its pilots and reviewing its air safety compliance.

The airline is working on a marketing strategy aimed at regaining old customers.

SAA’s interim Board appointed Kgokolo, a qualified chartered accountant, with a wealth of experience as a non-executive director for various organisations.

He took over the reins from the business rescue process and is set to facilitate the airline’s process of getting a strategic equity partner.

Kgokolo says his priority, for now, is for the SAA to resume flights.

“We need to do training for the pilot, remember they have not been flying for a while. Secondly, from the compliance perspective, we need to ensure that we are at the right level. But more importantly, we need to make sure that from a marketing perspective we are organised so that we can reach out to our customers,” says Kgokolo.

He also says operationally at the corporate level, the compliance level must be done adequately as well.