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SAA likely to cut up to 1 500 jobs

Image: Sunday Times

Six months into the job of running loss-making South African Airways‚ chief executive Vuyani Jarana is mapping out a punishing austerity plan.

Jarana‚ who faces the daunting task of turning the national carrier around‚ said layoffs and other cuts were unavoidable as he contended with a draining cost-to-income ratio of 108%.

“SAA cannot carry the same workforce – pilots‚ cabin crew or administration‚” he said.

“We have to make some tough decisions to save the airline. There cannot be sacred cows.”

He declined to put a number to the job losses‚ but two sources familiar with his plan said SAA was likely to cut 1 000 to 1 500 people through layoffs and voluntary redundancies to bring its employee-per-aircraft ratio in line with regional competitors.

The numbers reportedly include 300 flight attendants.

Some of the carrier’s 700 pilots‚ encouraged to look for jobs elsewhere‚ have drafted their own severance pay offer to SAA‚ the second source said.

On Monday‚ SAA catering subsidiary Air Chefs announced that it planned to retrench 118 workers in what could be the start of a more profound restructure of the airline’s entire workforce.