JOHANNESBURG – South African Airways spokesperson Tlali Tlali has lashed out at the pilots who are planning to strike against the national carrier.
Tlali has expressed disappointment that SAA pilots have threatened to down tools over rescuing the airline, while negotiations were still in progress.
According to a report carried by the Independent Media, Tlali said they were disappointed that the SAA Pilots’ Association (SAAPA) chose to release a statement while they were continuing to engage them and were in the middle of the negotiation process.
“We would have preferred to see the process run its natural course before any statements were made by either party,” he said.
“We must all understand that the appointment process takes time as due process must be followed. Notwithstanding the number of key appointments, including the chief commercial officer, chief executive of SAA Technical and the chief executive of Mango, have been announced and more executive hires are in the pipeline.
“We are cognisant of the need to urgently turn SAA around and have accelerated our long-term turnaround strategy.
“The board and the executive are working on this urgent task and we urge SAAPA to continue with constructive engagements. It is in no one’s interest to embark on industrial action.”
Tlali’s sentiments follow an announcement that the union was prepared to resort to industrial action to bring about necessary changes at the national carrier.
It is reported that the statement was made after a survey carried out by an independent service provider showed that 90% of pilots who took part in the survey were in favour of taking part in a protected strike to enforce a higher standard within SAA.
Among other findings, the study also found that 91% found operations management to be “poor” or “extremely poor”.
Should the matters not be addressed, SAAPA vowed to embark on strike action and if they do, it would be SAA’s first in its 80-year history.
However, economist Dawie Roodt said the strike would not impact on the economy or affect travel.
“There are many other alternative airlines that we can make use of. However, it would be disruptive,” said Roodt.
“The downside of this is that if SAA does not fly, it will incur more losses for the taxpayer,” he said.