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As we awoke on Day 7 in South Africa, we were greeted with another beautiful, clear, crisp, winter day. I stress “crisp” and “winter” because we found ourselves standing on the airport tarmac in the wind waiting to enter the South African Airways (SAA) maintenance hangar. There may or may not have been penguin-like huddling to shield ourselves from the cold. We were all friends by then, luckily.
We toured SAA Technical as part of another corporate visit, seeing the maintenance hangar with its engines, wings and other parts awaiting service. Since at that time I worked for an airline labor organization, my knowledge of aircraft types, airlines and labor issues impressed even me. It’s not a normal moment in my life to hold an intelligent conversation with an airline maintenance supervisor, but I did that day.
At SAA, we discussed the same employment and social issues we’d heard before regarding black economic empowerment (BEE) programs, affirmative action and a “brain drain” to the Middle East. It wasn’t their fault, because we normally would have been alert and interested, but by Day 7 we just tried not to nap during the presentation.
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