The South African Airways (SAA) board has shown unwavering support to new interim chief executive Zukisa Ramasia, as she faces strike threats from pilots.
The board’s pronouncement on Tuesday, 18 June 2019, comes on the heel of South African Airways Pilots Association (SAAPA) and other unions at the flag carrier who have openly criticised her appointment and are threatening to drop tools unless she is removed from office.
The SAA board said SAAPA’s remarks could hurt the airline further as the aviation industry was “extremely sensitive to negative sentiment, especially around business continuity.”
The board added: “While the comments are professionally disparaging against Ramasia, on close examination they appear to suggest a vote of no confidence against the board. This is an attempt to usurp our authority and responsibility and must be rejected.”
The board said Ramasia is the most senior and experienced executive at the airline and, in the past, had been a natural choice to act on occasions when Jarana was away from his office.
“The position adopted by SAAPA gives rise to the suspicion that they represent an anti-transformation agenda, and this easily finds expression, even under transitional arrangements when SAA is moving with speed to find a permanent CEO,” the board said.
The board said SAA had too many challenges to pre-occupy itself with in-fighting and repairing reputational damage. It appealed to all labour formations to desist from making threats of embarking on industrial action.
Ramasia was appointed as the airline’s interim head on 7 June 2019 after former head Vuyani Jarana suddenly stepped down, citing lack of financial support from government for his turnaround strategy for the cash-strapped but award-winning flag carrier.