The board of state-owned SA Express has appointed Siza Mzimela, a former CEO of South African Airways, as the struggling airline’s new acting CEO.
All but two of the airline’s aircraft remain grounded.
Current acting SA Express CEO Matsietsi Mokholo will be taking up a new position in the Presidency. Mokholo will hand over to Mzimela over the next two weeks.
In a joint statement on Wednesday evening the Ministry of Public Enterprises and the SA Express board said Mzimela has more than 20 years of aviation experience.
“Until now she has been part of the ministerial intervention team that was appointed in May to stabilise the operations and finances of SA Express and to identify options to recapitalise the airline given its immediate short-term liquidity problems,” the statement read.
Earlier on Wednesday the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) members at SA Express expressed their worry in a statement that that Mzimela would be appointed as acting CEO.
“Workers who have been with the company for many years remember Mzimela’s previous term as CEO. They say no reasons were given for her departure and soon after the company started experiencing financial difficulties so much so, profit share was not paid from that year onwards,” the union said in a statement.
Since the airline’s grounding employees have been anxious about its survival and the impact on their livelihood.
“Workers are apprehensive about the changes Mzimela would bring if she were appointed,” the union said.
Satawu intends to request a meeting with the airline at the earliest opportunity to discuss the safety of its members’ jobs.
The SA Civil Aviation Authority suspended the Air Operators Certificates (OAC) and Certificates of Airworthiness of SA Express in May 2018, effectively grounding the airline.
The aviation authority has since reinstated SA Express’s AOC and Aircraft Maintenance Organisation approval, clearing the airline for a resumption of operations.
SA Express has also managed to get Certificates of Airworthiness for two of its aircraft.
According to the aviation authority, it is currently permitted to operate with only these two aircraft.
In other aviation-related news, it was also announced on Wednesday evening that President Cyril Ramaphosa had transferred the administration of embattled national carrier SAA from the minister of finance to the minister of public enterprises.
This means that Pravin Gordhan – under whose watch the airline fell before he was axed as minister of finance during the Zuma era – will once again have oversight of the state-owned airline.
*This article was first published on www.fin24.com