South Africa Concerned About Senior Management Movements at SAA

South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is “concerned” that senior management changes at South African Airways are hampering the carrier’s efforts to become financially stable and has asked for a briefing from the state-owned company’s board.

SAA, which is unprofitable and relying on government guaranteed loans, last week appointed Musa Zwane as its seventh acting or permanent chief executive officer in less than four years. Other changes include the departure this month of Chief Financial Officer Wolf Meyer and director Anthony Dixon. Chief Strategy Officer Barry Parsons left the company in July, while SAA said Nov. 20 it had suspended Chief Commercial Officer Sylvain Bosc.

“Leadership stability is crucial to implementing the long term turn-around strategy so that the airline can return to financial sustainability,” Nene said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

A decision has yet to be made on SAA’s application to renegotiate its plane-leasing arrangement with Airbus Group SE, the Ministry said. The National Treasury is studying the request and recommendations will be made to the Minister “in due course.”

SAA had renegotiated an order for 10 A320 aircraft earlier this year in favor of leasing five more modern A330 models, a plan that was to save about 1.4 billion rand ($100 million). The carrier has now proposed an alternative plan whereby Airbus sells the planes to a South African leasing company, Chairwoman Dudu Myeni said last week.

“The minister will be looking for a deal that benefits the airline financially, or one that does not leave SAA in a worse-off position," the Ministry said.

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