12/06/2018 07:58 SAST | Updated 12/06/2018 07:58 SAST

SAA Braces For Job Cuts As It Embarks On Brutal Austerity Measures

SAA needs R21.7-billion over three years to service its debt alone.

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South African Airways (SAA) is about to embark on a brutal austerity programme, with up to 1500 people likely to lose their jobs, Business Day reported.

While the airline has not officially confirmed any numbers regarding job cuts, insiders reportedly said those at risk of losing their jobs include about 300 flight attendants, while some of SAA's 700 pilots have drafted their own severance pay offers after being encouraged to look for work elsewhere.

This comes as the airline tries to bring its employee-per-aircraft ratio in line with its regional competitors, according to Business Day.

SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana reportedly said, "SAA cannot carry the same workforce, whether it is pilots, cabin crew or administration. We have to make some tough decisions to save the airline. There cannot be sacred cows when it comes to SAA."

The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) reportedly said on Monday it had received confirmation that 118 Air Chef employees were to be retrenched. Air Chef is SAA's catering arm.

But SAA's spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24 on Monday that the number had not been decided, and that a consultation process with unions had to take place.

Tlali recently told Parliament that SAA's survival was at stake, and that it needs R21.7-billion over three years to service its debt.

But despite its financial problems, the Mail & Guardian reported last Friday that the airline was spending millions on new appointments, the upgrading of executive positions and consultancy fees to Deutsche Bank to help restructure the airline's debt.

SAA reportedly said increased expenditure was necessary to address a skills shortage at the airline.