Foster, get's my Mampara award this week.
SAA AIrlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster came up short in an interview with canny Radio 702 talk show host, Bruce Whitfield on 24 December 2009.
In the first minute of the interview he implied (no, said), that it was SA Airlink's decision to ground its fleet of 14 Jetstream 41s. Whitfield called him on this and he admitted it was the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who had been the major influence in that decision.
He was wrong footed from then on and lost all credibility. It appeared to me that his concern with passenger and crew safety was contrived. And, watching Foster on TV that night, there appears to be very little empathy in the man.
He's rattling off the party line as outlined to him by his spin doctors. Speak from the heart, Rodger. And, throw away that spin doctored script.
And Foster has made a rod for his back by putting the blame squarely in Honeywell's camp, saying it was some engine fault or other that only Honeywell can shed light on.
Foster is obviously not a chess player, and has forced Honeywell to make a move. He left no room for Honeywell to save face.
Guess what? A maelstrom is going to be unleashed. One can be sure that Honeywell's PR outfit is way more sophisticated than SAA Airlink's. They'll fight tooth and nail to defend Honeywell's hard-won reputation and will come at SAA Airlink with everything they've got.
Here's how it is going to play out:
- Honeywell is going to bring up its track record in relation to its other Jetstream 41 engines around the world. SAA Airlink better pray that every other Jetstream that has Honeywell's engines is also experiencing problems. If this doesn't come to pass, the spotlight will be firmly on SAA Airlink.
- The CAA will then intensify its investigation and who knows what will come up – be it management ineptitude, staff slovenliness or union filibustering.
- The CAA will find disgruntled staff who will be all to willing to dish out the dirt on SAA Airlink.
- The CAA will extend its investigation to other planes in the SAA Airlink Fleet and maybe find other issues.
- The CAA will be forced to ground the whole SAA Airlink Fleet.
My suggestion is that Foster apologises to Honeywell for jumping the gun and comes clean on this whole affair. Believe me the media will find out all in the end and if it's ugly, it's going to end up ugly for SAA Airlink and Foster.
Get another spokesperson to represent SAA Airlink, Foster's too hard and analytical. Airlink needs someone who appears to be more empathetic.
The Business Generator, Jacques de Villiers is a marketing strategist specialising in marketing, public relations, Internet marketing and sales.