Johannesburg - New SA Airways (SAA) chief executive Siza Mzimela resigned from the embattled government-owned airline on Monday, said the office of Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.
"Yes we have received the resignation. We have accepted the resignation, but it was not with immediate effect," said Gigaba's spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete.
"She will remain with us for some weeks until we find a suitable person to act in the interim."
SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali could not confirm the resignation when contacted for comment.
In an email sent to SAA employees, Mzimela said she had “given this decision careful thought” and “felt that now is the best time to relinquish my position”.
Mzimela, who joined SAA in May 2010 after heading up South African Express Airways, said she was leaving with some sadness because she had “thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the SAA family”.
The news comes more than a week after Chairwoman Cheryl Carolus and six others resigned from the SAA board. The resignations followed a decision by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to cancel SAA’s AGM and his request to Parliament for a two-month postponement of the tabling of its annual report.
Carolus told Business Day that it was “with a lot of careful thought and consideration” that she had taken this “extraordinary” step.
Meanwhile, the National Treasury has recently provided the crucial multibillion-rand guarantee that was needed to finalise SAA’s 2012 financial accounts. Comair challenged the application of the latest R5 billion government guarantee for the national carrier.
Chief executive Erik Venter said that Comair had an obligation to challenge further government support that would benefit SAA’s domestic operations. This was a matter of industry survival, and maintaining competition in the market for domestic air travel.
SAA had accumulated losses of R17bn since deregulation in 1992. Over this period, nine of the 11 private airlines competing with SAA had failed. This was a clear indication of the impact of SAA’s assurance of state support, Venter said. - IOL and Sapa