Satawu requests urgent meeting with Public Enterprises over SAA restructuring

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The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) says it has requested an urgent meeting with the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) regarding its handling of the restructuring of South African Airways (SAA).

The union says the transition process was flawed and they are concerned that SAA seems to be struggling with its business model deal with Takatso Consortium.

Last week, the Air Services Licensing Council gave the airline 90 days’ notice to give more details regarding its deal with Takatso or risk losing its licence.

SAA is currently owned by Takatso Consortium which has a 51% stake.

Government holds the remaining 49%.

Satawu Spokesperson, Amanda Tshemese, says if the union and the department do not agree they will then consider court action.

“We have requested an urgent meeting with Minister Pravin Gordhan and executives of Takatso and the DG (Director General) in the Department of Public Enterprise. This is not what we agreed on. We have agreed on certain issues including prioritising SAA staff members. We are going to challenge this deal. It was very insulting of the DPE to get into such a big business deal without our consent because we had a meeting with Pravin Gordhan. And by the way, he was chairing that meeting. We then agreed that in the process of restructuring SAA. The government must not entirely abandon the business and give it on a silver platter to the potential business partner.”

Potential loss of lucrative routes 

Meanwhile, Aviation expert Phuthego Mojapele has warned that SAA could lose some of its lucrative routes if its operating license is suspended.

“The license would be suspended. But suspension does not mean that you would not be able to fly again or you won’t be able to get a license. It simply means that when you get suspended, you need to provide the reasons – and stipulated on the letter that you were issued with – that you are able to continue flying and be able to service the license, the license that the SAA operates on, or any other airline in the borders of South Africa, not the government. It’s not your own routes, nobody owns the routes, they belong to the state.”

Mojapele says it is the council’s prerogative to give routes to a South African registered company or airline that wants to operate on them because the routes need to be maintained.

Mojapele says Takatso probably did not foresee some of the challenges it would face with such a transaction when it acquired SAA.

In the video below, Chartered Accountant and Commentator Khaya Sithole explains the SAA, Takatso Consortium deal: