'Let's plan to retain skill' - says DPE as consultation for new airline begins
The department of public enterprises said SAA will be dissolved and a new one will be established with new leadership and private sector shareholders, but BRPs want to sell off assets and retrench the entire workforce to pay off SAA's debt.
JOHANNESBURG – The department of public enterprises said it's consulting aviation experts on how a new state-owned airline will be funded.
The new national carrier will be formed partly from current South African Airways (SAA) infrastructure and by working with private equity partners.
Government has announced SAA will be replaced by a new airline that will operate post-COVID-19.
The national carrier’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) and government don’t seem to be on the same page regarding the way forward for SAA.
The department of public enterprises said the embattled airline will be dissolved and a new one will be established with new leadership and private sector shareholders.
This goes against a plan by the BRPs that calls for the termination of all SAA staff and the selling off assets to settle debt.
But public enterprises acting director-general Kgothatso Tlhakudi said this is too hasty.
“The BRPs hastily want to liquidate the business and we are saying can we work together to develop a plan that can retain the industry and skill that has cost a lot of money to develop.”
Tlhadkudi said unions are on board with the new plan and what’s left is to adopt a new business model and attract funding to get the airline off the ground.
UNIONS WANT SAA, SA EXPRESS RETRENCHMENT NOTICES DECLARED UNLAWFUL
The National Union for Metalworkers Union of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association said they believe SAA and SA Express can be saved.
The unions have hauled SAA’s BRPs, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and eight other respondents to the labour court.
They want two retrenchment notices issued last month to be declared unlawful or unfair and set aside.
The unions said workers were not presented with a business rescue plan as required by the Companies Act.
They want the labour court to order SAA BRPs to withdraw the retrenchment notices, or the court to suspend the process.
They also want SAA to be interdicted from terminating any employee.
Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said, “we want to remind our members at SAA and SA Express that everything we do is because we want to ensure that these airlines continue and they can be saved – we are continuing engagements with the department of public enterprises to find a permanent solution for our state-owned entities.”
The unions also want the court to declare SAA’s decision of not placing workers in the training lay-off scheme as unlawful.
They have previously presented this as an alternative to retrenchments.