South African Airways offers crew while shrinking network
South African Airways (SAA) is offering spare pilots and cabin crew for temporary or permanent contracts with other companies. As part of its turnaround strategy, the state-owned carrier is cutting unprofitable routes and thus needs fewer staff than it currently employs.
CEO Vuyani Jarana announced the offer that should help SAA cut the costs in an interview to Bloomberg. The crew will be able to set up contracts with other airlines to shrink the current size of the company, before returning to SAA if it manages to make profit again. “The hiring airline gets ready-made skills and we benefit from a reduction in overheads without people losing jobs,” said Jarana.
South African Airways has been struggling for years. The airline has failed to secure profit since 2011 and already received $1.6 billion in government funding. It has also secured an additional $400 million that will allow the company to operate normally for the next five to six months.
In the long-term, SAA is looking for a strategic partner in order to stabilize its financial situation. By offering experienced staff, the carrier also tries to open opportunities to form alliances with other airlines. Bloomberg reports that discussions with several companies including Kenya Airways and Emirates were ongoing. Ethiopian Airlines, that assisted several other African countries in creating new airlines, could also come to the rescue of SAA.
Meanwhile, the merger previously announced by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan between South African Airways and two other struggling airlines of the country – South African Express (grounded since May 24) and Mango – seems to have reached a standstill.
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