Home South African Workers feel the impact after court places Comair in provisional liquidation

Workers feel the impact after court places Comair in provisional liquidation

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The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday granted an order for the provisional liquidation of Comair, which operated kulula.com and local British Airways flights in South Africa.

File Picture: A British Airways plane at Cape Town International Airport. Picture: Matthew Jordaan

WORKERS at Comair are struggling to come to terms with the company being liquidated.

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday granted an order for the provisional liquidation of Comair, which operated kulula.com and local British Airways flights in South Africa. The company said in court papers that it did not have capital to fund its operational costs.

Speaking to The Mercury this week, workers said that Monday was the last day at work for staff at King Shaka International Airport in Durban.

Nompilo Masinga, 36, who worked as a customer services agent at Comair at King Shaka International Airport, said that it had been difficult for workers.

“I have been working at Comair since 2017, it’s really a challenging time, obviously we are very sad. Mentally we were trying to prepare for it because we were aware of the liquidation before it was announced to the public and the company entered business rescue two years ago, but still, it’s difficult to prepare when you receive that email to tell you that you should not come back to work,” she said.

Masinga said she, along with others, had not yet decided about plans for their future. “Honestly at the moment we are just taking it one step at a time and just hoping for the best. For myself, I can say that I won’t be looking for another job at another airline or airport. The aviation industry is just too insecure and I wouldn’t want to go through this again,” she said.

Masinga added that fellow workers were devastated and too distraught to speak to the media.

Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) national spokesperson, said that members were shocked and angry about the decision by Comair’s business rescue practitioners to apply for liquidation.

“They feel betrayed because they fought with all they had to keep the airline in the sky. For more than two years they were not paid their salaries in full, because they were told this would ensure the airline’s survival,” she said.

Majola added that Numsa believed that not enough was done to prevent the liquidation.

Majola said it was painful that 1,200 workers and their families would now have to deal with the aftermath of the company’s failure.

Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu said recently that the imminent closure of Comair would have a negative impact on tourism in the country.

She said four out of every 10 domestic tickets sold in South Africa were British Airways or Kulula tickets, and Comair had said recently that it had been on track to fly 4 million passengers this year.

Sisulu said the development was unfortunate, especially as the tourism sector had seen some recovery.

“This essentially results in a limited distribution network where there is limited capacity for both domestic and international travellers to reach and explore the length and breadth of our beautiful country,” she said.

THE MERCURY

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