“In August last year, the SAA lifted the ban on applications from white males for its cadet programme after Solidarity launched a major public protest campaign against the SAA,” deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said.
“It is clear that the lifting of the ban was merely a smoke-screen for continued racial discrimination by the airline.”
The union said SAA announced on Monday that 40 candidates had been admitted to its cadet programme. They would undergo 14 months of theoretical and practical training to enable them to obtain their Airline Transport Pilot Licences.
This would be followed by about three years of internship. The group consisted of 10 black men, four black women, nine coloured men, one coloured woman, seven Indian men, two Indian women and seven white women, it said.
“SAA’s exclusion of white male candidates constitutes subsidised racism… .The taxpayer is forced to pay for the government’s obsession to apply national racial demographics at all levels, everywhere in South Africa,” said Hermann.
Solidarity called on white men who applied for the cadet programme, but were unsuccessful, to contact it so it could investigate taking legal action on their behalf, said Hermann.
SAA said in a statement that the final 40 candidates fell under the category of previously disadvantaged individuals as defined in the Employment Equity Act.
“It is important to note this in the context of the current reality and measures that need to be taken,” spokesman Tlali Tlali said.
“The cadet programme is the airline’s effort to transform not only its own but also the country’s flight deck community, which is nowhere close to reflecting the country’s demographics,” he said.
He said SAA’s transformation strategy was informed by the broad-based black economic empowerment aviation sector charter.
“In the case of this particular programme, when assessing all applications, SAA is obliged to give preference to previously disadvantaged groups,” said Tlali. – Sapa