SAA, Dudu “Fast Asleep” Myeni & Visigoths

South African Airways is up a creek.  With a financial paddle that is you and I aka the taxpayer.  Circling above in a banking holding pattern are creditors.  It doesn’t really matter what Dudu “Fast Asleep” Myeni thinks, its what’s going to happen to her that is a True Story.  Because the reality is our national carrier is no longer considered a going concern.  By it’s own Board.

This has fiduciary implications for Myeni and her chommie Jacob “hehehehehehe” Zuma.   While she appears to have high friends in places,  this is only a fleeting moment of safety.  Because coming soon at a SAA movie house near you is liquidation.  No amount of spin doctoring is going to save the national airline, only a sudden and significant change in operations will do that, along with another beefy bailout.


That’s not going to happen while Myeni cocks a snook at Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.   So she has to go.

The SAA Board Submission which you’re not supposed to see but is easily and readily available online – here – describes a very serious financial condition.

The essence of the finding is that SAA is no longer a going concern.  Worse still,  the submission describes a business being conducted recklessly.

That’s bad.  Very bad.  It’s a disaster for the present executive.

Our national Airline is suffering from reckless trading.  Technically, creditors who’re owed billions could use Section 131 (1) of the Companies Act to apply for a court order placing SAA under supervision and to begin business rescue.

SAA does not meet the solvency and liquidity test required to continue operating as a going concern.  Solvency relates to the assets of the company exceeding liability,  and liquidity means the company can pay its debts over 12 months.   It may pass the solvency test, but its failed the liquidity exam.

The Board Submission notes:

“Based on the reliance on a going concern guarantee and the inability for the auditors to sign off on the annual financial statements, SAA has been and remains technically insolvent.  Accordingly, SAA is financially distressed and trading under insolvent circumstances.  Any further trading under the current circumstances constitutes reckless trading in terms of Section 22 of the Act.”

What this really means is two things.

  1. That SAA files for business rescue and is then protected legally or
  2. The Directors apply for liquidation on an urgent basis.

Time is of the essence.

But Myeni, what of her?  She’s hanging around meetings and refusing to co-operate.  With Finance Minister Nene firstly. That’s all going swimmingly for this walking disaster of a Chairwoman.  Zuma is protecting her back.  For now.  She’s refusing to negotiate and her edicts are ultimately self-destructive.  However, when fiduciary reality catches up with her,  she’s going to be toast.  It’s all a great game.  Then she walks away with the inevitable golden handshake.  Goodbye, you’ve been a disaster, here’s R12m.

In the meantime we live with a terminal SAA that’s slipping quickly into a financial coma while Myeni and Zuma play the giddy goat.  The Board Conclusion is noted.  It’s suggested that the following four options be considered extremely urgently:

  1. Request the shareholder inject capital.  That’s you and me folks, via the government.
  2. Finalise its decision regarding the Swap Option.  This is a very technical process, but basically SAA changed an Airbus A320-200 purchase into a Swap for other aircraft.  They’ve got to make up their minds NOW on this deal.
  3. Reach out to Airbus and try and find a way forward.  If not, court action and possible liquidation threatens.
  4. Establish a transaction team to renegotiate the Swap.  Myeni has tried to get that done through a third party – her .. umm .. friends? 

Thousands of jobs are threatened.  Staff are beginning to have an inkling about what’s going to happen.

It’s not going to be pretty,  and perhaps its time to prepare the crime scene forensic cleaning team to put on their rubber gloves, mask and full-body gown.  Wiping the blood off the walls at  SAA is going to take nerves of steel and the constitution of a Visigoth.







The Black Dog, Aviation & Andreas Lubitz

The recriminations have begun after the Germanwings disaster.  Lufthansa may be in a spot of bother here,  but they’re not alone.  This terrible accident has brought a few things into relief, including how the aviation industry is governed and the rules and regulations that absorb our time as we think about flying.  But what are some of the other facts in this macabre and terrifying story?

Andreas Lubitz, who is thought to have flown 150 people to their deaths aboard Germanwings Flight 9525, would not have been allowed to fly as an airline pilot in the US or South Africa for that matter.

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His total hours (pilot in control) at the time of death were slightly more than one third the minimum needed for a US Airline Transport Rating.  PIC its called.  Instead he was loaded with PICUS – Pilot In Control Under Supervision.  That’s where you’re in the left seat (where the Captain sits) with an instructor in the right who may not touch the controls.  As soon as they do – the PICUS time is “demoted” to DUAL time.   Guess what.  Most of these PICUS hours really do have moments where the instructor helps the PICUS.  It’s a bit of a grey area…

Looking through the culture of pilots over at least 50 years there’s on distinct trait that emerges that you really want from your Captain flying Kulula through the tail of a thunderstorm.

Survival Instinct.  Built on real-time experience and thousands of hours as a pilot. Alone.  Or honing their skills as an instructor for five years, watching others make mistakes and improving their own knowledge constantly.

Using his/her basic brainpower and thinking to outwit fate and survive.

And that should include the First Officer.  There’s such a dirth of this sort of pilot,  that airline companies have instituted that experience/youth combo over the last 15 years.  It’s also accelerating, along with a dreadful Pay-to-Fly.  It’s PTF.  Aviation is full of acronyms. But this is one of the weirdest.  Young pilots are inducted into airlines by actually paying the airline to fly in the F/O seat in order to build hours.

Many of the world’s airlines use this nefarious employment technique.  Airlines like Ryan,  Easy and Wiz and a host of others hire really junior pilots with  only a few hundred hours. I have no idea if Germanwings was one.


You’ll all be pleased to know that SAExpress and SAA only employe pilots with 2000 hours plus and PTF hasn’t made its odious little appearance here.  Yet.

99.9% of the time, nothing bad happens in flying.  But when you hit that 0.1%, you want 10 000 hours or so combined sitting up front.  Preferably shared,  not 9500 hours and 500 for the kid.

You also DO NOT  want a First Officer who is recovering from depression after popping those suicide inducing pills and who has a measly 100 hours in supervised time on an Airbus. Like Andreas.

It may not be politically incorrect to say this,  but its just true.

One of the side effects of anti-depressants (which I have never taken mind you, I’m just reliably informed), is enduring a weaning process.  The longer you pop ’em, the worse it gets.  Why the FDA has allowed this dependency to spiral is beyond me.  The stories I’ve been hearing about what happens to your head after a year of throwing these evil ellipses down your throat are dark.

Treating mental illness is not like setting a broken bone then jumping back in the plane after six months.  The side effects of treatment can be worse than the disease.  I’ve heard a few stories of depressed pilots marriages breaking down, taking a few days off, then climbing aboard and continuing their aviation lives without a blip.   This is not the same as someone who’s being treated for chronic depression.

It’s actually mentioned over and over in training – are you mentally fit?  As pilots we’re constantly asking ourselves are we fit to fly.

  • How was the drive to the airport?
  • Did you have road rage?
  • Have you settled down?
  • How’s things at home?
  • Are you stressed about something you can’t deal with?
  • Have you had sleep?
  • Have you eaten enough?
  • Are you feeling good?
  • Is your stomach working properly?
  • Are you concentrating 100% on the job at hand?
  • Slow down, you’re moving too fast.
  • Think.
  • Have you done everything correctly?

Imagine you’re imbued with the darkness of the Black Dog.  These questions above are like a fluffy layer of impertinence when your soul is grappling with issues like

  • Should I kill myself?


  • Is this all there is to life?

We’re so babied as humans these days,  someone has to tell you how to be an adult. We gamble with the devil and hope that our sensitive little lives aren’t reported by our aviation doctor.  Or our fellow pilots.

We’re not in a war.  During WWII pilots who displayed this sort of dark edge were called mysterious, “having a death wish” and were ultimately lauded for being purveyors of the true spirit of courage.

The modern narcissistic cult of the individual has exacerbated the dangers – anonymous little twerps can somehow leap into our popular consciousness with the effortless click of a Smartphone app.

Some say aviators have the characteristics of Rottweilers obsessed with speed, sports cars, flashy partners and loads of dosh.  Others believe its possible for pilots to be kindler, gentler, nice guys and gals who are sensitive.  And can have a mental disorder, as long as its treated.

It’s a simple thing, this aviation business.  Cock it up and die.  Simple.  That’s why loads of PIC hours are needed.  So if you have a propensity for weakness,  its outed at some point in your 1200 hours before you sit in the right seat.   600 hours is not enough.

So you need to be constantly scrutinised by those who do the managing – its invasive yet  totally acceptable.  But I’ve heard from people who say it’s their private business.  Well its not. It’s not even their private business if they’re flying in some isolated area alone.

This includes being assessed for mental stability.  ANY signs of being suicidal and you HAVE to be hoiked off the flight deck.  It’s a place for curious people concentrating exclusively on allowing everyone to live by being really really motivated and utterly obsessed with safety.  Constantly.  Almost boring. You’re so good, you’re like the amazing wicket keeper who no-one notices because you’re a metronome of efficiency.

Andreas Lubitz. Source: Facebook.
Andreas Lubitz. Source: Facebook.

Don’t forget it’s the pointy end of a missile in which families are sitting.  Hundreds of people with thousands of loved ones.  The cult of the “individual is always right” and that fuzzy little idea, Outcomes Based Education, has begun to collide with reality

Sometimes your individual rights have to be put aside for the rights of the majority.

If you can’t cut it, you lose your knife.  Or everyone loses their life.