Home South African Comair says funding plans ’under way’ after flight suspension leaves passengers grounded

Comair says funding plans ’under way’ after flight suspension leaves passengers grounded

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Comair on Tuesday announced the suspension of all its kulula.com flights and the British Airways flights it operates under a licence agreement.

Kulula.com and British Airways flights under a licence agreement have been grounded. Picture Supplied

TOURISM Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has expressed concern following the grounding of all Comair flights, leaving thousands scrambling to make alternative travel arrangements.

Comair on Tuesday announced the suspension of all its kulula.com flights and the British Airways flights it operates under a licence agreement.

The flights are suspended pending Comair successfully securing additional funding.

This comes after the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) had grounded Comair on March 12 over serious safety concerns.

Flights were operating by March 17 after Comair’s Air Operators’ Certificate was reinstated.

Comair flights equate to about 40% of the country’s aviation capacity.

The company’s business rescue practitioners (BRP) have advised that the process to raise the necessary capital is in progress and that there is reason to believe funding may be secured. Once received, the airline will be able to recommence operations.

British Airways and kulula.com ticket sales have also been suspended with immediate effect.

“This comes at a bad time as families are preparing for school holidays and some international holidaymakers are preparing to spend their summer holidays in South Africa. However, our main concern is the effect this will have on tourism,” Sisulu said.

According to Sisulu, domestic travel contributed positively to demand in the Covid-19 period, driven by campaigns and pricing targeted for our domestic market.

“This was positive and helped create better understanding within the market and through this exposure propelled the market to diversify its offerings. Global tourism is rebounding despite lingering Covid restrictions and the effects of the conflict in Ukraine, but tourist arrival numbers are not back to pre-pandemic levels. The pace of recovery is slow and uneven across world regions, and this is due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates, and traveller confidence,” Sisulu said.

Comair said it had done everything it could to avoid the suspension of operations.

“We deeply regret the inconvenience this suspension will cause our customers. We did everything we could to avoid it. Comair, the BRPs and the lenders are working all out to get the funding in place so that we can resume our normal flight schedule as soon as possible,” said Comair chief executive Glenn Orsmond.

“Comair is inherently a viable business. We have the two of the best airline brands in the country. We are on track to carry over four million passengers this year and generate R5.3 billion in revenue. We have excellent staff, a modern fleet, good sales and distribution channels and low operating costs, which is why we believe the funding will be secured,” he said.

For customers on British Airways flights, British Airways’ booking with confidence policy will apply. For more information, visit: https://bit.ly/36cfJYC

Customers can also contact the Contact Centre on [email protected], while kulula.com customers on suspended flights have the option of a Travel Bank credit or can request a full refund of their ticket value. The Travel Bank credit can be used by the passenger or someone else. Customers can e-mail [email protected]

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