Mining industry to help SAA

SOUTH African Airways (SAA) looks to the mining industry as it braces itself for a difficult 2012.

SAA recorded a net profit of R782 million (US$97.6 million) in the 2010/2011 financial year – a 77 per cent increase from last year’s R442 million ($55.2 million), SAA spokesperson Dileseng Koetle says, but passenger and freight numbers are sliding.

“SAA felt the impact of the dip in passenger numbers due to adverse global economic conditions,” Koetle adds.

The airline recently launched a Johannesburg (South Africa)–Ndola (Zambia) route to connect the City of Gold to Zambia’s copper mining capital.

“In particular, SAA has been looking at expanding its services to towns with mining linkages with the continent,” comments Koetle. “The active role within the mining chain could contribute to improved efficiency in the production, sale and distribution of mining resources, with the expansion of airfreight services also easing logistical challenges on the continent.”

SAA is also gearing up to launch its Johannesburg–Beijing (China) route later this year.

As a state-owned enterprise, SAA has suffered poor decision-making and frequent reliance on the government to bail it out of financial difficulty. There have been calls for privatisation of the airline.

“The focus for the airline over the last financial year included marked enhancement of business efficiencies, as well as improved governance and operations,” explains Koetle.

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