Home Opinion & Features Let’s talk about SAA’s future

Let’s talk about SAA’s future

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We are pleased to note that a high court judge has ruled that the City of Tshwane must appoint a competent manager for Wonderboom airport

Having a good national airport infrastructure, safe operational protocols and technical support is as important as having revenue-generating routes, enough planes and skilled pilots to fly them.

At a time when SAA is in the doldrums, and passengers are abandoning it for other carriers, we urge ongoing debate about what the future of the national carrier should be.

SAA, which was founded in 1934 when the government of the day took over Union Airways, last made a profit a decade ago, and since then billions of rand have been spent propping it up.

This, as Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, points out, is money that could have been used elsewhere, such as in providing better transport for down-at-heel road and rail commuters – not those who can afford to fly.

The airline went into business rescue at the end of last year and its practitioners have defended their early announcement to cut certain domestic and international routes as part of the way to turn SAA around and try to make it commercially viable and sustainable.

While we should give them the chance to pursue the best options – something which could prove difficult if the ANC intervenes – the end of SAA, at least as we know it, is nigh.

Which brings us to the question of whether, for nostalgic or other reasons, we need to retain a national carrier or if all or some of its holdings could become the property of aviation industry experts, as is the case in many other countries.

Meanwhile, we are pleased to note that a high court judge has ruled that the City of Tshwane must appoint a competent manager for Wonderboom airport.

Major cities the world over have their own city airports and Wonderboom should serve as an adjunct to OR Tambo and Lanseria, the burgeoning area announced in the State of the Nation Address as the site of South Africa’s first smart city.