The Hon. Derek Hanekom is known as an outspoken and hardworking South African Minister of Tourism from May 25, 2014, to March 30, 2017. He was re-appointed to serve as the Minister of Tourism from February 27, 2018 to May 29, 2019.

Hanekom also served as the Minister of Science and Technology from October 4, 2012, to May 25, 2014, and as the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs from 1996 to 1999.

In 2016 Minister Hanekom was awarded the Order of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest award bestowed upon individuals for service to their nation. He is the Chair of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which supports the legacy of the anti-apartheid stalwart by deepening non-racialism in South Africa.

Mr. Hanekom was born January 13, 1953, in Cape Town and belongs to the African National Congress. Currently, he is working as a presidential envoy for South Africa, mandated to promote tourism investments.

World Tourism Network (WTN) Vice President Alain St. Ange congratulates Derek Hanekom on his appointment as interim chairperson of SAA. The appointment of Derek Hanekom, the former Tourism Minister of South Africa as the chairperson of the interim South African Airways (SAA) Board earlier today was welcoming news for the tourism industry throughout Africa.

World Tourism Network VP Alain St. Ange, the former Minister of Tourism for Seychelles at the same time as Derek Hanekom was serving as minister of Tourism for South Africa, was one of the first former colleagues congratulating Mr. Hanekom on his new appointment.

Alain St. Ange said from Seychelles: “This appointment is good news for SAA. Derek Hanekom is a hard worker and understands that tourism is not an activity but an industry.

“Derek Hanekom worked for tourism with his heart in the right place and with the needed passion. South African Airways is in good hands, and Africa needs to welcome this move. SAA is a leading African carrier essential for African connectivity and tourism.”

The 93-year-old Star Alliance member airline has faced enormous challenges for some time and has seen several changes in its top jobs. The airline entered voluntary business rescue in December 2019 due to many years of financial losses and suspended all operations the following year.

In June 2021, the government announced that in an attempt to revive the airline, it had entered into a partnership with the Takatso Consortium, which would hold a 51% controlling stake. The South African Civil Aviation Authority confirmed on 4 August 2021 that SAA’s air operator’s certificate had been reissued with an approved fleet of eight aircraft.

The airline restarted operations on 23 September 2021, despite not concluding the investment agreement with the proposed private partners. Nonetheless, SAA was recognized as the second-best airline in Africa by Skytrax in 2021, despite not having flown a single scheduled flight for 18 months.

There are two more Star Alliance member Airlines in Africa, Egypt Air, and Ethiopian Airlines. With tourism and international commerce recovering after COVID, the outlook for SAA as a key airline connecting the South African Region with the world is promising.

In 2018 former minister Hanekom had a word for the media: “The media, as you portray the reality of Africa with all its challenges, include the story of how tourism is changing our continent and benefitting its people.  Thank you for your invaluable contribution.”

South African Airways needs positive media. Chair Hanekom may be the best person to put this goal forward when he gets SAA re-positioned as a leading and profitable airline carrier.