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Hangar Talk December 2016

SAA Shambles by Tom Chalmers

SOUTH AFRICAN Airways recently hosted a Press Conference for the release of its 2015/16 financial results. But instead of trying to vindicate itself from the financial and other woes it currently faces such as the substantial losses it has being racking up, matters seems to just get worse.

The media invitation was to attend the briefing at “SAA Airways Park, Jet Park, Isando, 11:30 for 12:00.” Just before 12:00, a spokesperson from SAA – no names, no pack drill – to avoid further embarrassment of the national flag carrier, welcomed the media and complimented all for being on time, and announced the event was about to start.

Famous last words, and two hours later, our representative, Mark Mansfield, and several others were all still left stranded in the downstairs boardroom. This did not bode well for the airline, considering that part of its mandate is to be on time.

“Noticing that the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, was also to address the media, we became excited and assumed that we finally would be getting some straight answers to some burning questions about SAA, but instead we were told that the Minister might not make the media briefing due to ‘other commitments’.

“I was then among those given the opportunity to go up to the sixth floor for a ‘photo opportunity’, which proved to be a waste of time, as they marched us all into that boardroom and make us look on as if we were viewing caged animals which we were not allowed to feed. Then with scarcely a word of apology, we were marched down to the third floor in anticipation of the media briefing.

“This was a true test of our patience. Or was it actually a ploy to make some of the daily media miss their deadlines, as the briefing was now running well over an hour late?

“Assuming that the Minister was having some harsh words with the SAA board, we waited patiently, but soon noted that the Minister was at his next event as some news agency was Tweeting his speech, while we were all still waiting, but getting agitated by the lack of communication.

Eventually, after over three hours of twiddling my thumbs, I packed my bags and promptly made it very clear that this was a disgrace and very disrespectful, but considering the country’s own president falls asleep in Parliament, and that the chairperson of the SAA board arrives late for Parliament, we media were by no means important. To prove a point, one (or were there more?) of the media present did fall asleep,” Mark said afterwards.

To cut a long story short, SAA posted another loss of R1,5- billion for the 2015/16 Financial Year.

During the three hours the journalists wasted their time waiting for the meeting to start, which ultimately did not happen, the national airline would have lost a further R513 698 plus some small change as well. No wonder none of the financial wizards expected for the meeting pitched.

CHARGING WINDMILLS AGAIN

With the ink still wet after Johan Lottering reported on the giant problem with certification of avionics in World Airnews last month, yet another document, Technical Guidance for Authenticity and Serviceability of Aircraft Parts issued by the SA Civil Aviation Authority, emerged. And, as though a mirage General Notice AIR-2016/004 followed on October 10, 2016.

The “Impossible Dream” conjured up by these documents is the elimination of untraceable aircraft parts including avionics from the face of the earth.

Quite noble, were it not for the rest of the industry spotting only windmills being charged down – a la Don Quixote – instead of dealing with the real giants, the after-effects of illconceived legislation. Changing the “rationale” can never do away with a piece of bad legislation which must have cost the industry millions in processing delays and disapprovals. Like the arms of a windmill each document which followed on from the original Mandatory Advisory Notice, alias MAN 43, seemed to knock the disgruntled industry even more out of shape...........................................To read the full article please subscribe to our E Magazine Here.

November 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | March 2016 | May 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016

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Managing Editor: Tom Chalmers tom@airnews.co.za

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