Monday, 1 July 2013

Interview: Nico Bezuidenhout, South African Airways Acting CEO

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When Nico Bezuidenhout stepped down as interim CEO at South African Airways (SAA) on 1 June, he handed successor Monwabisi Kalawe the daunting task of executing a 20-year turnaround strategy at the troubled flag carrier. Martin Rivers investigates whether SAA is at long last embarking on the path to profitability.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, SAA's shareholder, has voiced strong optimism that Kalawe will "hit the ground running" in his new role, despite lacking any experience in the airline industry.

The new man takes over the helm from Bezuidenhout, an experienced industry executive who co-hosted the IATA AGM in Cape Town this June and now returns to his role as CEO of Mango, SAA's low-cost subsidiary. Kalawe's immediate priority will be implementing the turnaround plan – drafted collaboratively by Bezuidenhout and Gigaba – which aims to lessen the carrier's reliance on state support...