SAA Pilot Shares Sad Day as Pilots Go on Unprecedented Strike
SAA Pilot Shares Sad Day as Pilots Go on Unprecedented Strike. Photo: Richard Wright

A heartbreaking message from a proud South African Airways (SAA) pilot has been going viral on social media in the last few hours as SAA pilots go on strike for the first time in history, something he says they had never “lowered” themselves to do before… but desperate times call for desperate measures.

The strike concerns unpaid salaries and retrenchment conditions. The SAA Pilots’ Association (SAAPA) said in a statement that the pilots were last paid a year ago, and have been locked out of their workplace since December. SAAPA says that over 98% of its members have voted for the strike, and to be retrenched by SAA with three months’ notice pay.

According to several copy and paste posts that are going viral, an anonymous SAA Pilot wrote the following message:

“Today is by far the most regrettable and sad day of my entire flying career. After serving one of the oldest and greatest airlines in the world, SAA, for almost 40 years as a technician, graduate aero engineer, flight engineer, pilot and training captain with everything I had, working amongst the finest aviators of our time, I am now part of the first ever strike of the South African Airways Pilot’s Association. In 50 years we have never lowered ourselves to strike!

“The politicians of today, by greed and a grossly vindictive mandate, have attempted to get us to the point of starvation and hopelessness. All because we stood as professionals and would not tolerate the mismanagement or blatant theft from our airline. We were not the cause of SAA’s demise; we flew with pride and professionalism.

“Carrying millions of passengers safely and efficiently through extreme weather conditions, tough approaches, emergencies and technical challenges. We never waivered, having been soundly mentored and trained to the highest levels of competence and safety. To what end? Because we cared and knew that our passengers deserved the best.

“I’m sad because SAA will never rise to this challenge again. I must move on and leave it all behind.

“Here’s to my colleagues, brothers and sisters in the airline, the cabin crew, technicians, fleet support officers, performance specialists, dispatchers and technicians; all of whom made us a family of SAA – all proud professionals in their own right.

“South Africa, your airline was great and the “SPRINGBOK” call sign was transmitted with pride everywhere in the world. Its legacy will live on although it will ring hollow now when it is heard coming from the ghost of its former self.

“We must move on with our lives and leave our once proud SAA to those who will, no doubt, use it to meet their own personal agendas.

“I am proud to declare that SAA did not fail due to anything I was responsible for. Although it breaks my heart that I will never fly for my country again, I bow out as a Senior Training Captain with every good memory of this glorious National Airline as it was.

“‘Good night “Springbok”.'”

UPDATE: SAA Pilot’s Heartbreaking Letter After South African Airways Retrenches its Pilots