HK to play important airline role

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 May, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 May, 1993, 12:00am

HONGKONG has an important role to play in the future of South African Airways (SAA), according to the company's new chief executive, Mr Mike Myburgh.

''If more than 50 per cent of the world's population lives within five flying hours from Hongkong, and my company services five centres in the region, then it deserves my attention,'' Mr Myburgh said on a recent visit to Hongkong.

He said he was impressed with the developing business contacts between Hongkong and South Africa, in the light of the changing political atmosphere.

That, in itself, required the airline to investigate business expansion opportunities in the region more seriously, he said.

SAA operates a non-stop flight every Saturday from Hongkong to Johannesburg, and also operates twice a week services from Singapore and Taiwan.

In addition to these flights, the airline has entered into a code-sharing agreement with the Brazilian airline, Varig, out of Bangkok, which supplements the demand for flights to South Africa considerably.

''Business through Hongkong during the past year has been brisk,'' said Ms Marie-Helene Maguire, the airline's new manager in Hongkong.

''I am particularly excited about the business opportunities in China.'' Whether the Hongkong service will be increased is under review and a decision will be made when passenger and cargo growth potential has been calculated.

Mr Myburgh said SAA, like most other airlines, experienced tough times last year, but that he was confident that, with a few adjustments and the full support of his management team and staff, profitability could be restored within two years.

The new chief executive is an engineer, but has spent most of his working life in management.

While deputy to the previous chief executive, he studied all areas of the airline's operation and has shown a keen interest in the Asian and Pacific Rim.