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SAA confirms chief strategy officer’s resignation

Jul 25 2015 11:36
Jenni Evans and Ahmed Areff, News24

“We sadly have reached a point where we have run out of options, but to suspend SA Post Office's account,” said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali. (Photo: Fedor Selivanov / Shutterstock.com) (Fedor Selivanov / Shutterstock.com)

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Johannesburg - South African Airways (SAA) chief strategy officer Barry Parsons has resigned, SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed on Saturday.

"We confirm that Mr Barry Parsons has resigned from SAA,'' said Tlali in a text message.

''The airline received correspondence to this effect from him yesterday [Friday].

On Friday News24 reported that Parsons had resigned as chief strategy officer and the airline's board of technical directors, based on what appeared to be a resignation letter containing damning remarks about the airline which is surviving on government bailouts.

Neither Tlali nor Parsons would confirm the authenticity of a letter seen by News24 to acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout, but in the letter, Parsons said he had "lost all confidence in the board to lead and progress the business" and described the board as ''dysfunctional'' and with a ''compromised'' integrity.

"Unfortunately, I have lost all confidence in the board to lead and progress the business, and when I look at the 2015 corporate plan and the priorities the board seem to have, since the plan was submitted on 30 April 2014, I cannot reconcile the two."

‘Additional transformation requirements’

According to a report by BDlive earlier this month, the 2015 corporate plan looked at saving more than R900m over three years through staff reductions.

Parsons said that central to his decision were major interventions in the supply chain by individual non-executive directors. These included fuel, debt finance and other services like ground handling, which were "thinly veiled as additional transformation requirements".

He continued: "My other concern is the SAA Technical - AAR Corporation 'strategic partnership' and the disgraceful lack of transparency, to both the SAA Technical board and the SAA board... triggered my resignation from the SAA Technical board earlier today [Friday]."

AAR is a global aerospace and defence company.

In June SAA Technical said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with AAR to establish a joint venture partnership to reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies.

‘Board’s integrity compromised’

The partnership would also focus on growing SAA Technical's maintenance, repair and operations services to third-party customers or airlines across the continent.

Parsons said there were directors on the board who had the best interests of the company at heart and were diligent in discharging their "fiduciary duties", but there were others who had "compromised the board's integrity".

"I wish SAA well, however continued employment here eventually became a reputational matter and it is a simple decision to submit my resignation and move on."

Earlier this year British Airways subsidiary Comair unsuccessfully challenged the billion rand lifelines which have been extended to SAA.

Bezuidenhout said in June that SAA could return to profitability in four years.

saa  |  nico bezuidenhout
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