SAA reverses course on white cadets


SA Airways has lifted a block on applications by whites for its cadet pilot programme, Rapport newspaper reported.

Beeld newspaper reported on Friday said white applicants were being rejected across the board when applying for a cadet programme online. An irate father had called the newspaper to complain that his son, who had a commercial pilot’s licence and met the educational and physical criteria, had been rejected on the grounds of race. By filling out several dummy applications, Beeld established that the online form had been programmed to summarily reject any white applicant.

SAA spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba told Beeld that the cadet programme was being advertised online as an initiative to bring pilot demographics in line with the country’s broader demographics. “Only 15% of SAA’s pilots are currently black, and this includes Indians and coloureds. The rest are white, and 91% of them are men.” Ledwaba said the airline would appoint male, white pilots when there were vacant posts for which applicants of other races could not be found.

But Saturday legal department head Fikile Thabethe told the Sunday paper the airline’s website had been changed so that applications from white men would not automatically be rejected. The move followed white-orientated trade union Solidarity sending SAA a letter from its lawyers, urging it to drop its quota system for cadets.

The closing date for applications to the cadet programme had been extended from August 17 to August 31, to allow other whites to apply, as Solidarity had demanded. “This total ban on applications from whites goes against the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” Solidarity’s deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann told Rapport.