Consultants tasked with charting a viable path for South African Airways’ continued operations in 25 days have pocketed millions of dollars but failed to produce a plan within the allocated time, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has claimed.Gordhan said this on Friday when he briefed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises on the situation at the cash-strapped state-owned airline.
Local and foreign consultants, officially known as business rescue practitioners, spent five months without producing a viable business plan as required at the end of a process to have the troubled SAA continue with its operations using the plan, Gordhan said.
He noted that the practitioners were not assigned to run the airline — but rather, to emerge with a plan so that competent airline managers could be appointed to run the national carrier.
During this period the consultants, not only failed to produce the needed plan, but spent a whopping US$550 million on themselves and two US-based consultants, who recommended the liquidation of the SAA.
The minister said the reason government provided the funding to the business rescue practitioners was for them to complete a business rescue process that could end with “a viable streamlined, trimmed down, cost-effective business operation.”
This, however, did not happen, the minister said to the disbelief of the committee.
The government has now employed the services of an aviation expert company to chart a way forward for a new airline to replace South African Airways, Gordhan said.