Shutting SAA would destroy transformation in SA aviation, pilots say in open letter
If SAA and SA Express were to close down there would never be transformation in the country’s aviation industry.
This is according to an open letter penned by “African and designated group pilots of South African Airways”, published on Twitter on Saturday. The letter was addressed to the business rescue practitioners on social media on Saturday.
The letter comes after a proposal by the airline's administrators showed that SAA is offering severance packages to its workforce.
Unions representing about 60% of the 4,700 employees at SAA slammed the proposal.
Business Times reported that the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the National Union of Metal Workers of SA said the letter announcing the plans was “an illegal document”.
Feroze Kader, chief negotiator and PR pointed out that in the document the names of all the various unions including Sacca are listed even though they hadn’t been consulted.
According to BusinessLIVE, the department of public enterprises insisted that SAA isn't about to embark on a wholesale retrenchment of its employees and said it was still in discussion with unions about a new business model for the airline.
The department said in a statement on Saturday that the business rescue practitioners were still consulting with creditors, unions and the government as the shareholder.
In the open letter, the pilots write that those in the industry know that transformation is almost non-existent in most flying operations.
“Currently SAA employs just over 600 pilots and Africans and designated group pilots only make up 27% of the pilot body.
“Of the 27%, only 11 are African and designated group women. Other SA airlines, including Mango which is state-owned, have shown little to no interest in transforming the aviation industry,” the letter reads.
It continues that, should SAA and SA Express close down, there would be no hope and no future to make it in the industry for African children.
“Looking at SAA statistics, there is currently little to no desire to promote Africans to participate meaningfully within the industry. We as African and designated group pilots employed by SAA are all first generation pilots.
“Growing up, there was no-one in our communities to look up to and in whose footsteps we could follow and receive mentorship towards a career in aviation,” it reads.
He said it was “imperative” for SAA to retain African and designated group pilots moving forward after the business rescue process.
“This will aid the company in its quest to implement transformative measures and inspire future generations of African and designated group children to consider and inclusively select flying as a career.”
Read the open letter in full here: