The boss of South African Airways has quit as the airline seeks to recruit as chief executive to oversee a turnaround strategy.

The South African flag carrier admitted it was facing “critical financial circumstances”.

The airline is in ongoing discussions with government departments and financial institutions “with respect to  putting in place a financial structure appropriate to supporting the long-term sustainability of the company”.

Senior management met with unions on Friday “to provide assurances that the turnaround strategy remains on track and will continue to involve all key stakeholders in rolling out the implementation of the strategy”.

Operations general manager Zuks Ramasia has been put in temporary charge of the carrier as acting chief executive from Monday.

Outgoing chief executive Vuyani Jarana will provide transitional support to the board and management when required for the duration of his notice period, the airline said.

Jarana, who joined SAA in November 2017, had spearheaded a long-term strategy to return the airline to financial and operational sustainability. He resigned a week ago.

Ramasia, described as an experienced executive with extensive aviation background, will be supported by executive committee members including chief restructuring officer Peter Davies and chief financial officer Deon Fredericks.

She was part of a SAA senior delegation who flew from Johannesburg to London in April to meet with the UK trade and key stakeholders.

SAA said: “The board has commenced a search, domestically and globally, for a permanent chief executive with appropriate experience and expertise to stabilise the company and to oversee the implementation of the long-term turnaround strategy.”

The chairman JB Magwaza said: “With the support of the shareholder, the board and executive management of SAA are fully committed to the turnaround strategy.

“In that regard we are working closely with the shareholder to optimise the aviation assets of the state.

“We are close to concluding other senior appointments and will make further announcements in due course.

“The board is committed to transparency and engaging with all stakeholders regarding stabilising SAA and the implementation of the long-term strategy.  We will be providing regular updates on progress.”