South African Airways is in the process of being wound down and liquidated, its staff laid off and paid off as they’re made redundant.
The airline, founded in 1934, has been a financial and practical disaster in the last 20 years, riddled with corruption, political infighting, government interference and excessive union militancy. Loss after loss and bailout after bailout, along with a list of failed CEO’s (most left because they just couldn’t get the unions or the government to support them), have done nothing to correct the problems.
In a decision that hadn’t been impossible before Covid-19, the government used it to signal the end of the airline. And you can’t blame them for doing so. The crisis created an opportunity to do what should have been done a long time ago but political realities prevented. Facing a bottomless pit of expenses the government finally saw the light and pulled the plug.
Yet the richest nation on the African continent, the biggest and most advanced economy, with resources in gold, diamonds, uranium and a huge tourism industry, and much more besides, needs an airline.
The Government of South Africa is now looking at using the best of the left over assets to create a slimmed down airline, from the ground up, free of the unions power and with new managers.
How soon? Uncertain right now, but it won’t be long, the country needs a functioning airline.