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Where to next for SAA? The top 5 things you need to know

Jun 07 2019 11:11
Fin24

The SAA board held a briefing on Friday to outline the way forward for the national carrier following the resignation of its CEO Vuyani Jarana last week.

At the briefing, the board announced that Zuks Ramasia, who was previously General Manager: Operations would serve as its interim acting CEO. She assumes the new role as of Monday despite Jarana indicating previously that he was prepared to work out a three-month period until the end of August. While he would continue to stay on at SAA until then, Jarana would now serve in a supporting capacity.

Here are 5 things you need to know.

1. On the process of appointing a permanent CEO

The Board announced that it had already started searching for who would step into the role permanently. Board member Thandeka Mgodoso said that they would do a "global and domestic search" to find the best candidate for the job.

"A comprehensive search has already begun," she said.

2. On Jarana's resignation 

The Board said that Jarana had recently requested to be released from his duties but at the time, it could not indicate a suitable time frame. It was now in a place where they could say to him that his last day as CEO would be on Monday, when Ramasia would officially step into the role in an acting capacity. Jarana had previously indicated that he would stay on at SAA until the end of August and work out a three-month notice period. He would continue to stay on until the end of August in a supporting capacity.

The Board said it was saddened by his departure.

3. On the leaked resignation letter

The Board announced that it had instituted an investigation into how Jarana's resignation letter had been leaked despite several security measures which had been put in place at the time. They now needed to get to the bottom of how the document was leaked as it had been in a "very secure space".

"We tried all kinds of security to the extent that none of the board members, except for the chairman, had a copy of the letter after the board meeting on May 30," said Mgodoso.

"Even the chairman will be part of the investigation."

She also said that the Board's recent meeting was held offsite at the Rothchild's boardroom due to a fear of further leaks.

"We were not sure where the leak had come from so we decided to move to an office space that is regularly swept and if there is any untoward behaviour [in terms of leaks], it could be tracked very quickly," said Mgodoso.

4. On its new CEO

The Board hailed Ramasia as being an experienced executive with extensive aviation experience who would be supported by an experienced executive committee.

It also said that the work done by Jarana in terms of the carrier's turnaround strategy would not "collapse".

5. On its profitability

The Board said that it had been in ongoing discussions with the Department of Public Enterprises and National Treasury in terms of its financial sustainability. These talks had since intensified following Jarana's resignation.

"If we don't put SAA on a stable financial footing, we are going to continue to have the challenges that we've experienced over the past year." It reiterated that SAA would likely be profitable only by 2021/22.

SAA was also in ongoing discussions with lenders.

"We have taken them into our confidence to ensure that we can operate under what is a difficult set of financial circumstances."

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