The South African Airways has not been in a very good financial situation for some time now.

The airline has gone through seven CEOs in just four years, which should give you an idea of how difficult it is to turn the airline’s situation around.

Over the years and on a good number of occasions, thousands of passengers had narrowly missed having their flights grounded.

The government has severally stepped in to provide the national carrier with an emergency short-term loan to cover fuel costs for local and international flights. This is how bad it has been.

The ANC Youth League, has, however, linked the financial collapse at the airline to two South African senior citizens. The shocking revelation was made on Wednesday at a media briefing in Irene, outside Pretoria.

The league alleged that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are behind the collapse. In addition, it claimed the officers have direct interests in SAA and have been working around the clock to ensure the SAA collapses, so as to create space for private businesses they are linked to.

Digging deeper, the league alleged that Ramaphosa and Gordhan have interests in Bidvest and Comair, which they said had interests at SAA.

ANCYL spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said:

“If you go and look at the SAA at close range you would realise there are service providers who have been service providers to SAA since 1973.

“When SAA was moved from public enterprises to Treasury for a turnaround strategy, Minister of Finance comrade Pravin Gordhan appointed a consultant, who serves as a board consultant. That board tells SAA that it must take everything to Bidvest.”

ANCYL secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza denied that both senior government officers are corrupt, but said the league must be careful of “leaders who protect companies that are not assisting in transformation.”

Nzuza called for an investigation into the SAA to establish who is benefiting at the carrier.

In January 2013, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba signed a guarantee that enabled SAA to secure an R550 million loan. This was after the airway almost found itself grounded by the end of 2012.

During the last quarter of 2012, the SAA posted it lost R1.25 billion in March 2012. This outrageous announcement prompted the resignation of board members and subsequently the appointment of Zuma’s ally Dudu Myeni as SAA board chair.

In the 2013/14 financial year, the airline incurred a loss of R2.5 billion. In the first six months of 2016, the airline made an R648 million loss.

Treasury confirmed last year that it has given R14 billion to SAA in guarantees over the last 15 years which has supported a staff component of 11,491 in 2014. This means that it has cost government R1,218,344 per employee to keep these jobs.

Some Notable Challenges At The SAA

  • SAA has a fuel inefficient long-haul fleet, consisting largely of A340 aircraft, which are gas guzzlers.
  • The Airline has not been able to raise the capital and/or reach an agreement on which planes to order to modernise their fleet, which is long overdue.
  • Their aircraft utilisation is horrible, given that for most of their long haul routes, the plane sits on the ground for an entire day before making a return.
  • There are rumours of misconduct from executives at the airline, which seems to be rampant at state-owned airlines.