South African Airways Suspends Acting CEO Vuyisile Kona

South African Airways, Africa's biggest airline, said it has suspended Vuyisile Kona, its acting chief executive officer, because of allegations it didn’t describe.

“This is based on certain allegations that have come to the attention of the board,” the state-owned company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “The board has a fiduciary duty to investigate.”

The state-owned company is seeking a new CEO and expects to make an appointment by March 31, it said. Nico Bezuidenhout, the CEO of SAA’s Mango unit, will oversee the company in the interim.

Bezuidenhout becomes the third person at the helm of the unprofitable airline in four months. Siza Mzimela resigned in October and Kona, who was chairman at the time, was named acting CEO. The change in management might hamper the finalization of a rescue plan requested by the state.

“We are lagging behind for the turnaround strategy,” said Natasha Michaels, shadow minister of Public Enterprises for the opposition Democratic Alliance, in a phone interview today. “The worry is that Bezuidenhout is acting CEO and we don’t know if he will be around to implement the strategy or his own ideas.”

The airline, Africa’s largest, posted a pretax loss of 1.36 billion rand for fiscal 2012 compared with a profit of 792 million rand a year earlier, according to its annual report. The airline was given a 5-billion rand ($560 million) guarantee by the government on Oct. 2.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kamlesh Bhuckory in Johannesburg at kbhuckory@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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