Airlink (South Africa) (4Z, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) has confirmed it has applied for an urgent interdict and order from the South African High Court in Johannesburg to prevent South African Airways (SA, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) and its personnel from using or disclosing confidential commercial information allegedly obtained unlawfully by a former executive manager before she departed Airlink to join SAA.

In the same application, Airlink is seeking a court order declaring the confidential information as Airlink's property and instructing all SAA personnel who possess the information to return it to Airlink and delete and, or destroy all electronic copies or derivatives of the stolen files, a spokesman informed ch-aviation.

"Airlink anticipates instituting additional proceedings against some of its former employees on several related matters," he disclosed.

The Citizen newspaper first reported that the sensitive information pertains to Airlink's commercial information on its contracts with travel agencies and travel management consortiums, along with the financial values of these relationships. At the centre of the allegations is Airlink's former executive manager of sales and marketing, Carla da Silva, who resigned abruptly from the airline to join SAA in November last year.

An email dated October 29, 2023, obtained by The Citizen, revealed that while Airlink still employed Da Silva, she allegedly shared detailed information with ten colleagues who followed her to SAA. The email instructed including year-on-year flown revenues from Airlink's anchor client spreadsheet into a new database.

Da Silva declined to comment when approached by ch-aviation. She referred the matter to SAA's spokeswoman Vimla Maistry, who also declined to comment as the matter was subjudice and was being handled by the company's lawyers.

Maistry also declined to comment on a report by City Press newspaper on the weekend that SAA itself was taking legal action against its former pricing analyst, Thanusha Chiba, for allegedly stealing confidential historical fare data, including fare construction and benchmarking information. "This is another matter that is subjudice as it is with lawyers now," she said.

In an affidavit filed with the High Court in Johannesburg on March 14, SAA's senior manager of pricing and revenue management, Thingahangwi Mulovhedzi, said the airline wants Chiba to return the information as it could negatively impact the business should it land in the wrong hands. The data was contained in a company-owned laptop, which Chiba had returned to the company after her resignation in August last year. Still, SAA consequently found that the crucial information was missing. SAA's IT department discovered that a hard drive had been connected to the laptop, possibly to copy and store the information before deleting it from the computer, the affidavit reads. In a meeting with the airline in September last year, Chiba said she had deleted the data as she had compiled it and believed it belonged to her, not the airline.