Vuyani Jarana, CEO, South African Airways, bet, money, challenge, Leon Louw, Free Market Foundation, profit, loss
Vuyani Jarana

CEO bets his own money he can fix airline

Loss-making South African Airways has a new chief executive, Vuyani Jarana, who likes a challenge

Loss-making South African Airways has a new chief executive who likes a challenge. Vuyani Jarana has accepted an idea to pay R100‚000 (€6440) of his own money to charity if his three-year turnaround plan for the airline fails.

The challenge was put forward by Leon Louw, executive director of the Johannesburg-based think tank the Free Market Foundation, South Africa’s Sunday Times reports.

But if Jarana succeeds in leading the airline into profit by a deadline of March 31, 2021, it is Louw who will have to stump up the cash.

“Some may dismiss this as a PR stunt. It is not‚” Louw pledged. “Does he really believe that SAA will make a profit in 2021? It is easy to gamble taxpayers’ money; not so one’s own.”

South African Airways quickly issued a response.

“As a sign of his personal commitment to the cause‚ the airline’s CEO‚ Mr Vuyani Jarana‚ commits to match the pledge for R100‚000 from his personal resources‚” the airline said in a statement.

The airline is a strategic asset that must deliver on its mandate, it added, and bring dividends to its shareholders – the South African taxpayers.

“We are not oblivious to the seriousness of the situation and the new leadership (CEO and Board) did not walk blindly into the situation when they accepted their responsibilities.”

Former glory
The airline insists it stands a good chance to return to its former glory.

“The announcement that the airline will unshackle itself from a bout of perpetual losses by year 2021 is a realistic assessment of its own strategy which has been reviewed‚ stress-tested and whose implementation is already underway‚” it said.

“The strategy is a sound commercial remedy for the business‚ strong enough to yield results we all expect from an investment of the size of this airline.”

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