It has been revealed today that a R10 billion fleet contract is behind the turmoil at South African Airways (SAA). It appears that the Department of Public Enterprises interfered in the procurement process which will further delay any turnaround at the national carrier and quite possibly cost the public billions.
The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises must be briefed on this tender by all involved. The DA will also be submitting questions to determine the cost of this wasted opportunity.
The former SAA board had accepted the SAA's fleet committee's recommendation to go with the new Airbus A350 over the Boeing long-haul fleet. The reason for this was that the new Airbus would be more fuel-efficient. This formed part of the Carolus-led board's turnaround strategy to get the national carrier back on track.
However, according to reports, the ministry was against this decision resulting in the resignation of the board and massive delays in securing the aircraft.
SAA has now missed the opportunity to secure the Airbus and any new decisions regarding the fleet will be delayed by another year.
In January, Treasury had to provide SAA with an emergency short-term loan of R550 million to cover fuel costs for local and international flights. With further delays in procuring fuel-efficient aircraft, this could cost the public billions.
It is essential that all involved in this tender brief the Portfolio Committee on what went wrong. I will therefore be writing to the Chairperson to ask that we are briefed by the former and current SAA board members, the Ministry as well as those involved in the tender process.
SAA has been moving from crisis to crisis and the public deserves to know who is responsible for wasting billions of rands of public money.
Natasha Michael, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises