SAA cuts set to further weaken the EC economy

The front page article “SAA cuts big blow to hunting industry” (Herald, September 12) refers:  The news that the beleaguered SAA is considering curtailing the number of domestic flights to and from the Eastern Cape in order to regain some form of financial stability, is of grave concern.

Business chambers in the province have been vocal in recent months about how more flights are required to develop stronger economic ties with other provincial industries and foreign business. Air travel is a quicker – and far safer – means of doing business with the Eastern Cape when one considers the appalling state of many of our roads.

Further, one of our bigger winter industries is the hunting industry. Our province is popular as it is Malaria free and offers a wide variety of hunting options, particularly for overseas visitors. Limiting the number of SAA flights will choke this industry as SAA is the only airline that allows the transport of a wide spectrum of hunting paraphernalia.

Most tragically, the East Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) and the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) have invested heavily in game parks and emerging black game farmers and the transformation of the hunting and game farming industry. Their efforts have been rewarded and this sector of the agriculture industry is performing well in our province.

It seems most unjust that the abysmal management of a state owned enterprise by an illegally elected chairperson, who has sat by and watched the entity in her care go down the financial drain, must now impact negatively on so many other sectors of the economy, particularly in a province where economic transformation has been so long in coming.

I have contacted my colleagues in the National Assembly to urgently look at this matter.  The DA urges the SAA board to seriously reconsider how they intend recouping their lost fortunes without their actions negatively impacting on the economies of the provinces that depend upon air travel for investment, tourism and business. Curbing domestic flights will clip the wings of these provincial economies.  — Jane Cowley MPL,  Shadow MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism