South African Airways slams ‘faceless troublemakers’ for malicious attack on CEO

South African Airways slams ‘faceless troublemakers’ for malicious attack on CEO

South African Airways (SAA) issued a statement yesterday, slamming what it calls malicious attack which is attempting to tarnish the name of its acting Chief Executive Officer Nico Bezuidenhout,

“These nameless, faceless troublemakers have represented themselves to the media in question as having inside information regarding the content of job applications, personnel files, and other documents relating to NicoBezuidenhout, Acting CEO of SAA,” SAA group corporate affairs executive Tlali Tlali said.

“They claim that some applicants for the post of SAA CEO – Bezuidenhout among them – have misrepresented their qualifications to the board of SAA, the body responsible for identifying the airline’s new permanent CEO. This is utterly false.”

Tlali added: “It is also a transparent and perfidious attempt to harm the airline by attempting to discredit its management. Whatever the motivation of the anonymous sources in this matter, the result can only be an attempt at destruction of a significant national asset belonging to the people of South Africa.

For the record, Bezuidenhout has never made a secret of the following:

1.    his university studies included courses required for degrees in Industrial Psychology and Transport Economics, and for a Master of Business Administration

2.    he did not complete his industrial psychology or transport economics studies, choosing instead to enter the world of work

3.    he has completed his MBA course work, but has so far not handed in his thesis as he chose to concentrate on successfully building SAA’s low cost carrier, Mango, before completing the degree

4.    these facts were laid out transparently and comprehensively in all job applications and CVs he has ever submitted, and

5.    should any document, report, or other communication exist which claims anything different to the above, it was written and published without his agreement and has never had his backing.

Again for the record, the standard biographical note used by the SAA Group’s communications department at all relevant times can be found at the end of this statement. Due to an editing error, SAA’s 2011 and 2012 annual reports erroneously reported that Bezuidenhout had completed his degrees.

Tlali said there will be no further statements or interviews on this issue.

Here is Nico’s biography:

Nico Bezuidenhout has read Transport Economics, Industrial Psychology and is currently completing his MBA.

Nico has been at the helm of low cost airline Mango since its launch on 30 October 2006. Nico’s leadership has seen Mango over-achieve against its business objectives with a string of firsts; including being the first domestic airline to distribute through grocery retailer Shoprite, Checkers and Checkers Hyper, acceptance of Edgars and Jet store charge cards as tender and developing business travel products within the low cost model. More recently, Mango became the first African carrier to offer on-board Wi-Fi access.

In six years, Mango also received several awards, including Best African Low Cost Carrier at Dubai’s World Travel Awards in 2008, thirteen successive PRISM Awards for its PR and communication and a Budgie Award for marketing in 2008 among others.

The Airports Company of South Africa has also, over time, awarded Mango its Feather Awards for excellence in aviation and service levels in all the airports it operates from.

Prior to taking the reins at Mango, Nico headed the team responsible for South African Airways’ foray into e-commerce. He was responsible for the carrier’s online strategy, delivering one of the flag carrier’s largest commercial successes in recent years.

He started his career as tour finance and merchandising commercial manager for Big Concerts, overseeing several international artists’ tours of South Africa including INXS, Michael Jackson and U2 among others. His stint in the live event arena led him into joining and leading the team that launched the first online ticketing agency in the country, Ticketweb, which successfully competed against box office giant Computicket at the time.

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