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'Govt's 3 airlines can be profitable if managed better'

Public Enterprises DG Richard Seleke says the state’s 3 airlines operate routes that are well-established with high traffic volumes that can generate enough income to sustain them.

South African Airways planes. Picture: Facebook.com

CAPE TOWN – Director General of Public Enterprises Richard Seleke says government’s three airlines can be profitable if they are managed better.

Appearing before Parliament’s public accounts committee on Wednesday, he confirmed that talks were already underway with Treasury to discuss a possible merger of South African Airways (SAA), SA Express and Mango.

But Seleke says it wouldn’t be prudent to recapitalise the airline if it continued to be poorly managed.

Seleke says the state’s three airlines operate routes that are well-established with high traffic volumes that can generate enough income to sustain them.

“Sectors such as tourism, and generally business, airlines have to be active to make sure the economy also functions.”

But Seleke says the government cannot be expected to throw the airline a life line to rescue it from insolvency if changes are not made.

“Much as we are working on it, we first have to correct the internal problems.”

He says improvements in the business are already evident since Victor Xaba took over the reins as chief executive five months ago.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)