South African Airways (SAA) is a massive drain on the economy, and the sensible and patriotic thing to do is to boycott the airline.
This is the view of Vestact CEO Paul Theron, who added that “SAA is going down. It is done. It is over”.
He explained that the embattled airline currently relies on funding to operate, which is becoming increasingly difficult.
“They are going to keep borrowing money on less and less favourable terms every week until the whole circus goes down,” Theron said.
“SAA flights are empty. No one in their right minds would book a flight long in advance if there is a risk that the airline will go under.”
Don’t fly SAA
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela recently slated South Africans who do not select South African Airways as their first choice.
“How sad that many fellow South Africans don’t buy into the ecosystem approach of putting their own first,” said Madonsela.
She added that making SAA her first choice is an extension of self-love in addition “to the fact that it’s the best in every way”.
Theron laughed off this argument, saying the sensible and patriotic thing to do is to boycott SAA, not to fly SAA.
“Don’t fly SAA, don’t fly. Don’t book SAA, don’t book,” he said.
South Africa does not need a state-owned airline
Theron also slated the government and the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) for insisting that South Africa needs a state-owned airline.
Theron previously said an airline is a challenging business, which is made even worse when it is owned by the state and run by amateurs.
He said the SAA is using state subsidies to compete unfairly and has been fined billions for anti-competitive behaviour in the past.
He added that the state-funded bailouts which now total close to R60 billion are theft from taxpayers and should have been spent on infrastructure projects and poverty relief.
This view is shared by many other commentators, including former FNB CEO and entrepreneur Michael Jordaan.
Commenting on SAA’s losses and mounting bailouts, Jordaan said flying wealthy people at a loss shouldn’t be a national priority.
Customers already abandoning SAA
Recent media reports suggest that passengers are actively avoiding flying with the airline due to the risk of cancelled flights.
One passenger who commutes between Cape Town and Bloemfontein weekly said his flight this past week was so empty that SAA shifted passengers around to evenly distribute the weight on the plane.
He added that he started seeing fewer and fewer passengers on the flights and that there were only around 12 passengers on board the aircraft last week.
A passenger who flew from Johannesburg to Munich said his flight had only around 60 passengers on board instead of the usual 150.
Biznews recently shared a photo of a community member who was one of a few business class passengers on an SAA flight from London.
It was, however, not only business class which was empty. He estimated that there were only 15 people in the whole of economy class.
Aviation analyst Guy Leitch told The Sunday Times that partly-full flights were a big expense for SAA. “Flying a half-empty or empty flight from London is financial suicide,” he said.