SAA Pilots Association stresses need for ‘fit for purpose’ board

The association has publicly announced it has lost confidence in the airline’s board.

Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Airways Pilots Association has stressed the need for a new "fit for purpose" board to oversee the national carrier, in a letter sent to three finance ministers.

Last month, the then Minister Nhlanhla Nene turned down the board's controversial proposal to restructure a deal to acquire new aircraft, which involves bringing a middleman in on the transaction.

The association has publicly announced it has lost confidence in the airline's board.

Chairperson John Harty says a letter was sent to the reappointed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his predecessors expressing the association's concerns.

"It's the same letter we've written to all the finance ministers of late - all three of them. We've expressed our hope that they apply their minds, look at the situation at SAA and take on board that we need a good, fit for purpose board with experience and which is able to run SAA properly."

The SAA board has to sign a contract with Airbus today to save the airline from having to pay pre-delivery payments that are due for new aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Finance Department is expected to announce the details of the Airbus deal, with the deadline for the signing of a contract today.

The SAA board needs to sign a revised lease agreement with the French company to avoid paying a more than R1 billion delivery fee.

However, the state-owned carrier is proposing an amendment to the deal that will see a middleman purchasing the Airbus planes on its behalf.

The department, under former minister Nene, stated that the proposed amendments to the Airbus deal made no financial sense.

Nene then ordered the SAA board to implement the original agreement with Airbus to avoid the penalty.

Gordhan is now expected to make an announcement on the way forward regarding the procurement of the planes.

The Airbus leasing agreement has been at the centre of speculation around Nene's controversial axing from the National Treasury.