Johannesburg - Baggage theft at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is "out of control", prompting travellers to use alternatives to South African Airways, CEO Siza Mzimela
Pilferage at other airports in South Africa was also "very high", Mzimela told members of Parliament's tourism committee, who were at a loss to understand how the problem could persist after huge investment in baggage handling equipment.
According to a report in the Business Day on Wednesday, Mzimela told the committee that the airline suffered more reputational damage than other airlines from baggage theft at OR Tambo because so much of its capacity was concentrated there.
The airline's acting head of group corporate affairs, Dileseng Koetle, said that pilferage at OR Tambo was 0.6 per 1000 - double the average 0.3 rate at other airports in the world.
Mzimela said the problem had to be dealt with collectively instead of all involved - including Airports Company SA (Acsa) - pointing fingers at each other.
Acsa spokesperson Solomon Makgale
said the company was working hard to curb baggage theft, which had declined steadily over the past three years.
Mzimela said another disincentive for passengers to use the airline was the requirement of transit visas from citizens of southern African countries. This had contributed to the decline of up to 20% in some of the airline's African markets.