South African Airways (SAA), South Africa’s national carrier, has been under new management since 1st November. Vujani Jarana has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He will be in charge of implementing the airline's turnaround strategy jointly with the new SAA management team and board and will lead the airline responsibly with his sound entrepreneurial expertise and his confident vision for the future of the airline.
Vujani Jarana was Managing Director of Vodacom Business at Vodacom Group LTD, a position he held since 2012, before taking up his post as CEO of SAA. Mr. Jarana transformed Vodacom Business into one of the growth segments of the Vodacom Group and was able to expand this business from 10% to 25% of the Group revenue in three years. Commenting on the appointment of Mr. Jarana, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said: “Given that Mr. Jarana has extensive experience in transforming challenging businesses into profitable and growing trades, we believe he will also be instrumental in implementing SAA's turnaround strategy and leading the airline into a positive future.
New members of the SAA Board and new Chief Restructuring Officer
Minister of Finance Gigaba is also pleased to announce the appointment of six new members to the Board of South African Airways, approved by the South African Cabinet and in charge as from 3rd November. The new chairman of the board is Mr. Johannes Bhekumuzi Magwaza, the new deputy chairman and managing director Mrs. Nolitha Fakude. Other new members are: Mr. Geoff Rothschild, Mr. Ahmed Bassa, Mrs. Tinyiko Mhlari and Mr. Martin Kingston. “The new members bring talent, expertise and energy to the airline and are highly respected personalities with a wealth of personal experience," comments Gigaba the appointment.
In addition, Peter Davies was appointed as Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO) within the new SAA management team. He has profound knowledge of the aviation industry and strengthens the management team as a turnaround expert for airlines. Davies holds 20 years of industry experience and has served as CEO of several European airlines, including Air Malta and Brussels Airlines. He also currently runs a London-based airline management consultancy company.
Capital injection and turnaround strategy
On 25th October, the South African government approved a capital injection of Rand 10 billion (approximately EUR 600 million) to service current loans and simultaneously launch the five-year turnaround strategy. The injection of funds is intended to make a major contribution to the financial stability of the airline and to restore confidence in the company's business operations among all stakeholders. The main pillars of the turnaround strategy are the support of South Africa's national development agenda, economic sustainability, excellent customer service as well as efficient and effective workflows. This is to be achieved by consolidating the network, boosting sales in order to increase turnover, more comprehensive cost control and the transfer of the state-owned airlines SAA, Mango and SA Express Airways to a uniform structure. The SAA routes from Europe are among the most profitable routes in the SAA network and advance bookings for 2018 are very positive. The travel destination South Africa has been booming for years and SAA is a reliable partner who contributes to this.