Former South African Airways (SAA) chairperson, Dudu Myeni, denied allegations that she collapsed the prospective code-sharing deal between SAA and Emirates Airlines.
Myeni took the stand for the first time in a trial to declare her a delinquent director.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mango Airlines, Nico Bezuidenhout, told the court that the financially embattled SAA lost out on a deal that could have secured it an annual guarantee of 100 million US Dollars when Myeni opted out of signing a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Myeni denied collapsing the deal when she took to stand the stand for the first time at the North Gauteng High Court.
"I don't accept the allegation it is baseless and it is not true. I have read on media and I have heard these allegations it is incorrect. I am glad I am before the court to state the facts about the Emirates deal. I see that it has even been priced that it got billions of brands. It is not true, Myeni told the court.
Myeni said it was important for the board to perform oversight and a review team was tasked to review the MoU to ensure it favoured SAA.
"There was an urgent request that we expedite the process of approving the MoU but the board had decided that a review team would be responsible to ensure that the MoU favours SAA as well and it doesn't take away business. The review team which was led by Dr [John] Tambi, because I would want them to go into the technicality of the MoU. Dr Tambi was an aviation expert who was part of the board," Myeni said.
She added that the team also included pilots with years of experience, who were tasked with reviewing the MoU.
Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and South African Airways Pilots Association (SAAPA) brought an application to have Myeni declared a delinquent director in terms of section 162(5) of the Companies Act 71 of 2008. The two applicants said SAA was profitable, but during Myeni's tenure the national airline "was marked by decay of financial ruin", maladministration, corruption and interference in operations.
Myeni continues to give testimony.