The South African government signaled it's going to take a hardline approach to its cash-strapped national airline as labour unions prepare to strike over pay and job cuts, forcing the carrier to cancel almost all its flights over the next two days.
"If some tough decisions need to be made, we'll make them," Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a speech at a conference in New York on Thursday. South African Airways is "not too big to fail."
Two unions - the National union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Cabin Crew Association - which represent more than 3 000 staff at SAA have said they'll go on strike Friday to protest the carrier's failure to meet their pay demands and plans to fire 944 employees.
The two sides held last-minute talks Thursday in an effort to make a deal, but the labour groups rejected an offer and the walkout went ahead.