SAA had issued requests for proposals (RFPs) to both Airbus and Boeing in Jun-2012 for new widebody aircraft, to replace older aircraft and grow the long-haul fleet from 24 to 31, allowing the carrier to respond to competitors and meet demand. SAA did not publicly disclose details of its aircraft requirements at the time.
31 March 2013
An example of how an A350 order could change an airline; South African Airways. Resignation of the board and departure of key executives.
Securing the right aircraft quickly was key to the turnaround strategy.
According to an aviation source, the delay created by SAA's board upheaval means SAA has lost the production slot offered by Airbus during its bid. Now any new decision about the bids may be influenced by the consideration that delivery by Airbus could be up to a year later than initially planned.
Said an SAA manager: "If you look at what's happened, you have to ask yourself if we would have had such big problems if the ministry had concurred with the choice of Airbus."
The minister's version
Department of public enterprises spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said the "reality" was that the Carolus board "only met 30% of its key performance indicators, the most important of those being financial management". He said the department had not seen a "detailed turnaround" plan.
Tshwete confirmed that the fleet committee had made a recommendation to the board to procure from Airbus, but denied that the minister was aware of this preference.
"The department was concerned that there was no long-term strategy that had been shared with it that informed the fleet renewal program," he said.
"This is the reason that the program is being revised: to be aligned with the long-term strategy that is being developed."
But the ministry's explanation why the procurement process was placed on hold is called into question by allegations of a disturbing pattern of interference in procurement matters – and by the events surrounding the arrival and sudden departure of acting chief executive Vuyisile Kona.
Based on the article “R10bn contract behind the dogfight at SAA” published in The Mail&Guardian