Rebuilding the brand – is the ‘new’ South African Airways starting to emerge?

It has been a challenging arrival for South African Airways’ (SAA) first permanent CEO in a couple of years. Vuyani Jarana joined the carrier in the second half of last year at a time that Citigroup and Standard Chartered both refused to extend loan terms for an airline that has been haemorrhaging money and actually hasn’t made a profit since 2011 living solely off government bailouts and guarantees.

Once the custodian of Africa’s largest airline title, SAA has faded into the shadows as Ethiopian Airlines has embarked on a growth trajectory over the past decade. Now, Vuyani Jarana, an industry outsider with 22 years experience as a telecoms veteran, has the task of rebuilding the brand and once more establishing SAA among the pride of African airline.

He knows he faces a challenge, but during an in-depth interview at this week’s IATA AGM in Sydney, Australia he outlined how SAA is working to return to profitably. Talking to CAPA TV about new aircraft, how culture is key to change, technology, rebalancing capacity to meet demand, managing demand across market segments, he highlights how he is working to deliver an organisational restructuring “fit for future, fit for growth”.