MIAMI – South African Airways (SA) has appointed Thomas Kgokolo as its third interim CEO in three years. Kgokolo took office on April 13. As published by Air Journal, he is the thirteenth person to hold the position in the past twelve years of SA’s troubled history.

Thomas Kgokolo has a background as a chartered accountant and holds a director position at the South African Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS). He has also served as CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and CRO (Chief Risk Officer) at the Competition Commission.

Kgokolo’s mission is to ensure a trouble-less transition from the present rescue situation to a new airline apt to re-enter the market with a new leadership.

South African Airways is under a controlled administration, in an attempt to save the Airline from disaster, which was supposed to be terminated on March 31 but is still ongoing as the carrier faces social unrest problems with its pilots who have stroke protests against salary dues and staff resizing.

South African Airways Airbus A340-300 ZS-SXB – Photo : Brandon Farris/Airways

Third CEO in Less Than a Year

Kgokolo is the successor of Zukisa Ramasia, named CEO in 2019, and Philip Saunders, who took the position in June 2020 but quietly left by the end of the year.

The new interim CEO will have the difficult task of restarting the SA engine and face the same difficulties that prompted a previous CEO, Vuyani Jarana, to leave in May 2019 due to “the uncertainty in the financing of the recovery plan he had put together and the slow implementation of reforms, which delayed the company’s recovery strategy.”

The task is rendered more difficult by the appearance of new Covid-19 variants and continuing travel restrictions affecting the industry worldwide, which SA will feel in the immediate future.

The new interim CEO will count on help from new executive staff, a new interim CFO, a new interim Manager of Human Resources, and a new interim COO (Chief Operations Officer). We wish him good luck.

Featured image: South African Airways Airbus A350-900 ZS-SDE – Photo : Kochan Kleps/Airways