Government 'clipped SAA's wings'

Solly Mapaila.
Solly Mapaila.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Vathiswa Ruselo

SACP leader Solly Mapaila has blamed the country's economic policies for the struggles faced by SAA.

The cash-strapped state carrier recently received a R3.5bn government bailout to ease its mounting cashflow problems that continue to threaten its survival.

Mapaila, who was speaking at the Johannesburg City Hall during a tribute event in honour of late Struggle veteran professor Ben Turok yesterday, said the government's policies made it difficult for the airline to generate profits.

The event, hosted by the ANC in Gauteng in partnership with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, was also aimed at marking and celebrating the 30th anniversary of the un-banning of the ANC and other political organisations.

Mapaila said several competitors of SAA, mainly international airlines, were also allowed to operate local routes thanks to government policies and were beating the state carrier on pricing as they did not have BEE principles, which affected how the state carrier operated.

"As it [SAA] complies with with the BEE principles, its price structure increases, therefore people ditch it to go to the most cheapest airline," Mapaila said.

"We have to think about all of these things but primarily build public institutions for public interest not for private profit interest."

Mapaila was among the speakers who praised Turok, an anti-apartheid activist who died aged 92 on December 9.

Other speakers included former president Kgalema Motlanthe who described Turok as a "remarkable leader and a mentor" to legions of freedom fighters and student activists during apartheid.

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