South African Airways (SAA) on Tuesday noted a “deep sense of disappointment” at the South African Airways Pilots’ Association’s (Saapa’s) comments that it may embark on industrial action in protest against the appointment of Zukisa Ramasia as the airline’s acting CEO.
Saapa chairperson Captain Grant Back on Sunday said, “SAA pilots will not sit back while the cycle of deterioration is allowed to continue. Like other unions, we have been forced to draw a line in the sand and to prepare to take action.”
Ramasia was appointed acting CEO earlier this month when Vuyana Jarana resigned as CEO.
SAA on Tuesday said threats of strike action, “could hurt the airline”, adding that SAA had “too many challenges”.
It stated that the aviation industry was “extremely sensitive to negative sentiment, especially around business continuity”.
Calling the comments “unhelpful” given the airline’s current standing, SAA added that the comments were professionally disparaging against Ramasia and appeared to suggest a vote of no confidence against the airline’s board of directors.
The airline stressed that Ramasia was the most senior and experienced executive at SAA who, before her appointment as acting CEO, had occupied one of the most critical portfolios – global operations.
“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.
“Management, labour and employees in general must avoid any distraction and focus on the implementation of the strategy. It is in the interests of all at SAA to work towards the recovery of the airline, and not its demise,” the airline stated.
SAA called on the association to reconsider its stance and urged other labour unions to participate in constructive engagements to find lasting solutions to the airline’s challenges.