New CEO takes the helm, amidst SAA’s ongoing revival

Shutterstock/Matheus Obst

A new interim CEO was appointed as part of the ongoing efforts to revive South African Airways since it entered administration in December 2019.

Thomas Kgokolo, a qualified chartered accountant with 15 years of experience in the public sector and over 10 years at a non-executive director level according to Eyewitness News, took up his appointment on April 13, 2021, as confirmed by the SAA board. Kgokolo will have the delicate task to oversee the carrier’s smooth exit from rescue administration, which was decided after a decade-long run of no profits.

Taking over from Philip Saunders who resigned in December 2020, Kgokolo‘s appointment makes him the 5th chief executive to be appointed to the position in just 5 years, and the 3rd since the carrier entered administration.

Kgokolo will have a steep path ahead as the carrier‘s re-entry to operation will entail re-building trust with SAA”s largest pilots union, SAA Pilots Association (SAAPA) representing nearly 90% of all 350 SAA pilots. The union threatened industrial action from the beginning of April 2021 following dilapidated relations with the airline through the years, which only deteriorated throughout the administration.

While navigating the uncertainties of the coronavirus, determining an exact flight resumption date will be another hurdle to clear.

According to a statement released on March 29, 2021, all domestic and regional flights on SAA‘s website will remain grounded till after June 30, 2021. International flights will remain grounded until after October 31, 2021. There are no clear signals as to the exact date of SAA‘s re-entry into the market, but website bookings will be available from July 1, 2021, depending on the situation surrounding the coronavirus.

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