The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has announced an interim six-member South African Airways (SAA) board as the airline prepares to relaunch in 2021.

In a statement on Wednesday, the department said Geoff Qhena will chair the board, which also comprises Peter Tshisevhe, June Crawford, Bembe Zwane, Professor Edna van Harte and Nick Fadugba.

The six, said DPE, are expected to restore proper governance and oversight of the airline during the implementation of a business rescue plan.

“As a shareholder on behalf of government, the DPE is delighted that these experienced professionals have agreed to join the board of SAA. Their combination of academic, financial, legal and aviation experience, with deep knowledge of global aviation and transportation trends, will bring a new perspective as the national carrier prepares to relaunch next year.”

The appointments, it said also enhances the independence and balance of the board, whilst continuing the process of transformation and renewal.

Qhena is a qualified Chartered Account and a seasoned finance executive. He is a former Chief Executive Officer of the Industrial Development Corporation, where he was at the helm for 13 years. 

Tshisevhe is a mergers and acquisitions lawyer with extensive experience in transaction advisory services. He is a director and partner at TGR Attorneys, a leading commercial law firm in Johannesburg.

He is also a part-time lecturer at Wits University Law School. He has been retained from the previous board to provide continuity.

Crawford, who leads the Aviation Working Group of the South African Business Council, is a leading aviation and tourism leader and professional. She has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Board of Airlines Representatives of South Africa, director at the Air Traffic and Navigation Services and Deputy Chairperson of the Tourism Council of South Africa.

Meanwhile, Zwane is an aviation entrepreneur who is a part-owner in an aviation training solutions provider, a car rental business and an aviation logistics business. She is a former executive at Imperial Logistics and Equity Aviation.

Professor Van Harte is an academic and former dean of the faculty of Military Science at the South African National Defence Force’s military academy at Saldanha Bay and former Chairperson of the Defence Service Commission. She has served on various boards and commissions.

Sixth board member Nick Fadugba, is an aviation professional with many years in consulting and promoting aviation development on the African continent, including leading the African Airlines Association.

He has served as the Chairperson of African Business Aviation Association and has been involved in discussions on a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

In charting the way forward, the DPE said it believes that the key to solving the difficulties facing SAA is the finalisation and implementation of the business rescue process, followed by the start of a restructured airline; appointment of a leadership team; and securing a credible strategic equity partner who can introduce the required technical, financial, and operational expertise into the business.

“The new airline will be run in a professional and sustainable manner to support key economic sectors – including tourism, trade with the continent, the local aeronautics industries and local service providers,” said the department.

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