SAA to discuss plan to reduce its staff

FINANCIALLY struggling SA Airways will in the next few days begin a consultative process to reduce its staff as part of the cash-strapped company’s efforts to turn around the business.

The embattled national carrier’s finances are in such a bad state that the company implemented its 90-day action plan last year, which it hoped would be enough to avert the looming retrenchments.

The airline’s finances are in the red because revenue and passenger numbers have dwindled since 2009 while staff numbers have grown, SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said yesterday.

According to its 2013 annual report, SAA employed 11 462 people.

The Herald’s sister publication, Business Day, reported yesterday that SAA acting chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout told the company’s staff on Friday that the staff cuts had to be considered in addition to other measures taken in a bid to rescue the national carrier.

Tlali said the 90-day programme was a recovery plan intended to bring the airline back to the implementation milestones of its long-haul turnaround plan.

He said it was only a matter of days before the company consulted stakeholders about laying off some staff.

“The implementation of the 90-day action plan began towards the end of last year.

“To return the company to relative stability in the context of the plan, SAA has had to re-examine every aspect of the business. This has already resulted in substantial savings and stronger governance.

“However SAA’s staff headcount grew [in recent] years beyond sustainable levels as losses continued to impair business stability.

“The reduction in head count will be a consultative process with all stakeholders in the company.

“SAA will explore a number of options including early retirement and voluntary severance packages.

“Retrenchments will be an option of last resort.”

-Mkhululi Ndamase

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