South African Airways (SAA) has said that the industrial action threatened by aggrieved pilots could hurt the embattled airline's business.
This as the South African Airways Pilots’ Association (SAAPA) on Monday questioned the interim SAA chief executive Zukisa Ramasia's competency to run the State-owned airline, saying that SAA needs an interim CEO with the appropriate experience and financial acumen.
In a replying statement, SAA said it has noted with "deep sense of disappointment" comments attributed to the airline's pilots' association, SAAPA, on the appointment of Ramasia as the acting Group CEO.
"These statements could hurt the airline more as the aviation industry is extremely sensitive to negative sentiment, especially around business continuity," SAA said.
"The comments made are most unhelpful in the current climate the airline finds itself. Such statements are unnecessary, opportunistic and laden in hypocrisy."
The union said it had written to the SAA board to express its dismay at the appointment of Ramasia and the retention of SAA's under-performing management team.
Ramasia was announced as the ailing airline's interim CEO following the resignation of Vuyani Jarana earlier this month. She previously worked as SAA's general manager of operations.
The airline said whilst the comments were professionally disparaging against Ramasia, on close examination, they appear to suggest a vote of no confidence against the board, and reiterated that Ramasia was the most experienced executive in the airline.
"Those who criticise her have not even allowed her reasonable space to perform her duties and deemed it necessary to attack her after she has assumed her new role for less than a week. The claims about her lack of skills and therefore suitability are both baseless and premature," it said.
The State-owned airline said SAAPA's comments were not helping, but hurting the airline by creating market anxiety associated with leadership instability at the airline.
"The ultimate victim is the airline and all its ordinary employees caused by incessant assaults on the brand," it said.
"SAA has too many challenges and appeals to all concerned to desist from making threats of embarking on industrial action. We cannot condone anything that seeks to diminish the airline’s chances to compete and significantly hurt its commercial interests."
SAA called on SAAPA to reconsider its stance and urged the rest of the labour unions to participate in constructive engagements and contribute towards finding lasting solutions for the airline.