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The Sunday Read: Why acting CEO says ACSA is on the up despite falling revenue

Dec 30 2018 09:01
Carin Smith, Fin24

The board of Airports Company SA (Acsa) appointed Bongiwe Mbomvu as acting CEO at the end of November, with the mandate "to ensure stability and effective ongoing operations of the company".

"I'm very honoured to be entrusted with this responsibility. For any company, the transition from one CEO to another can potentially be disruptive and lead to concerns among employees.

"I, therefore, very much appreciate the trust placed in me by the board and I will strive to maintain stability and effective delivery of airport services to airlines and passengers," Mbomvu told Fin24.

Mbomvu, 51 was born in Langa, Cape Town. Married with two daughters (23 and 17) and a son, 16, she joined Acsa in September 2013 as group executive: governance and assurance at Acsa. Her fields of expertise include corporate governance, risk, compliance and governance of ethics.

She is an attorney by training and received a Bachelor of Social Science, Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of Cape Town. 

Prior to joining Acsa, she was a group company secretary at Eskom. Before that, she worked in senior roles at Old Mutual, Sanlam, Southern Life, Norwich Life, the Life Offices Association and Metropolitan Holdings.

The board said it made the appointment of acting CEO while in the process of recruiting a permanent replacement for Bongani Maseko.

'Lack of governance'

In June this year, Parliament heard that, over the past three years, four board members had quit Acsa, with two indicating they had resigned over what they deemed a lack of corporate governance at the entity.

At the time, Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande issued a statement indicating that he was giving his "full attention" to restore good corporate governance and financial prudence at Acsa.

Acsa facilitates the air travel of about 41 million passengers a year in and out of its nine airports in SA. Its OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is the biggest and busiest airport in Africa, and its Cape Town International Airport has been named the most popular airport on the continent.

"Many of our airports, from the largest to the smallest, have received awards from international organisations. These awards are independent and based on surveys of passengers. So that's something we are proud of," Mbomvu says.

In September, Acsa reported a decrease in revenue of 20%, while its profit for the year to March 31, 2018 plummeted by 58%. Acsa says this was largely due to the reduction in aeronautical charges. Acsa met with a combination of a 35% reduction in airport tariffs it was allowed to levy, as well as a tough economic climate and lower traffic volumes.

Mbomvu notes that Acsa has made a profit for all but one of the past 25 years. It has never required state support or guarantees for its loans.

'We excel at collaboration'

In terms of transformation, her view is that more can be done, but that Acsa can still be proud of how far it has come in this regard.

"Our key business challenge is to continue expanding the non-aeronautical part of our revenue. This non-aeronautical revenue comes from activities such as retail, car hire, property management and consulting services provided outside of SA," she says.

"We are good at running airports effectively and efficiently. What this means in practice is that we excel at collaboration with hundreds of suppliers and service providers. Each day this requires careful coordination and synchronisation of activities."

She says Acsa has also excelled in infrastructure development going back several years - perhaps most notably in the building of King Shaka International Airport near Durban and the overnight move from the old airport to the new one.

Acsa has also been able to consolidate skills and experience into the Technical Services business unit, which has created an additional source of revenue.

Asked about issues among the previous CEO and certain board members or former board members in the past, Mbomvu said she was not in a position to comment on "those matters that remain between the shareholder and the board".

In her view, "these issues" receive far more attention in the media than they do among staff".

"The rest of us are focused on the job at hand. But it is also pleasing to announce that in the last two months we welcomed about seven new board members and a new chair. This indeed brings stability at board level," she said.

She said she wished her predecessor, Bongani Maseko, well for his future endeavours.

"We say, as Acsa, he must go and rest now as he has done a great job for Acsa," she explained. 

acsa  |  airlines  |  aviation
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