July 11, 2019 / 3:50 PM / a year ago

South African Airways chairman has quit - minister Gordhan

A South African Airways plane prepares to take off at the O. R. Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, South Africa, June 7,2019. REUTERS Siphiwe Sibeko

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African Airways’ chairman Johannes Bhekumuzi Magwaza has resigned, the country’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday, the second senior figure at the struggling airline to leave this year.

Gordhan told Parliament that Magwaza tendered his resignation for personal reasons, without giving any details.

A ministry official said Magwaza, who was appointed in 2017, will leave SAA at the end of July.

Magwaza’s resignation follows that of CEO Vuyani Jarana who quit in June, saying his turnaround strategy for the loss-making airline was being undermined by a lack of state funding and too much bureaucracy.

The departures highlight the challenges facing South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as he seeks to speed up reforms at South African Airways (SAA) and other state-owned entities. They are dependent on government bailouts and are regularly cited by ratings agencies as one of the main threats to the country’s economic growth.

SAA, which has not made a profit since 2011, has drawn up a five-year turnaround plan that includes slashing costs and cancelling unprofitable routes as it grapples with cost increases that far outstrip revenue growth.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Elaine Hardcastle

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