[EXCLUSIVE] SA Express admits policies disregarded in R2.4bn fuel tender

The Civil Aviation Authority suspended the airline's operating permits following an audit which uncovered severe cases of non-compliance.

A general view of an SA Express plane. Picture: SA Express.

JOHANNESBURG - SA Express acting CEO Matsietsi Mokholo says some of the airline's policies have been completely disregarded specifically by executives involved in the R2.4 billion fuel tender.

The Sunday Times revealed that little-known music promoter Eldridge Motlhake was awarded the multi-billion rand three-year deal to supply SA Express with fuel, despite the airline already having a contract to receive jet fuel from SAA.

Speaking exclusively to Eyewitness News on this issue, Mokholo said there was pure disregard for internal processes when this deal was signed.

Mokholo has described the R2.4 billion fuel deal as a collapse of governance systems at the airline.

“You had executive that concluded a contract without purely following a process altogether. Now R2.4 billion per annum is our total revenue.”

Mokholo says the executives have since been suspended.

“We met the investigators last week. The report will be concluded in a week or so. Based on the report, we will know the extent of the charges.”

Mokholo says the report will also determine whether SA Express needs to approach law enforcement agencies with regards to this contract.

NO FUNDS

Mokholo has clarified that not a cent has been paid to the music promoter who was awarded R2.4 billion fuel contract with the airline.

Mokholo said that contract had been suspended.

“The contract has been suspended and no funds have flown. There was communication with the company to indicate that the contract is under review.”

'WE WILL COME BACK'

Mokholo says while the grounding of the company’s aircraft is bad news, it’s also provided an opportunity to reflect and prevent similar mistakes.

The Civil Aviation Authority suspended the airline's operating permits following an audit which uncovered severe cases of non-compliance.

There were 17 findings of which five were categorised as “serious” level one findings.

Mokholo says despite SA Express having already made plans to deal with a number of problems, the decision to ground aircraft sent shockwaves through the entire organisation.

“The grounding is bad news but an opportunity to reflect on the things we took for granted and the blind spots we had, to ensure we go forward and not repeat the mistakes.”

Mokholo says they are working hard to address the issues identified by the authority.

“We’re giving ourselves 10 days to have all the corrective action plans in place. We’ll split 30 days for a number of milestones. The next 15 days will be on how we’ll come back because we are going to come back. We do want to come back. We believe there’s value in us coming back.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)