The DA and Solidarity were fuming on Friday over news that the pilot cadet training programme of SA Airways (SAA) excluded white men.
"It is disturbing that SAA have opted to exclude people from its pilot training programme on the basis of race and gender," said Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Michael.
"No South African should feel excluded on the basis of the colour of their skin or the combination of chromosomes they happen to possess."
The Beeld newspaper reported that application forms to the training programme from white men were no longer being accepted by the SAA.
SAA spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba told the newspaper the cadet programme was being advertised online as an initiative to bring pilot demographics in line with the country's broader demographics.
He said only 15 percent of SAA pilots were black, including Indians and coloureds.
Ledwaba said the airline would appoint male white pilots when there were vacant posts for which applicants of other races could not be found.
"Racial discrimination was the animating idea of apartheid and has no place in a democratic South Africa.
"There has to be a better way of ensuring diversity, merit and redress than blanket racial and gender quotas," said Michael.
Trade union Solidarity said it would launch a public campaign against SAA unless it "immediately" abandoned its quota system.
Deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said the campaign slogan would be: "SAA: An absolute barrier carrier."
Herman said Solidarity would use Facebook and Twitter to garner public support for the campaign.