British Airways’ Africa Franchise Grounded Until November

BA’s franchise partner in Africa is expected to resume flights in November, with a much smaller fleet.

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Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft
Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft (Image Credit: Comair)

British Airways’ franchise partner in Africa, Comair, will remain grounded until November 2020 at the earliest.

Comair is currently in a process known as “business rescue” whereby it seeks to restructure itself whilst protected from creditors.

In addition to operating a BA franchise in Africa, Comair also operates the Kulula airline brand and SLOW lounges in Africa.

Business rescue practitioners have been appointed to oversee the process. They have today, Tuesday 2 June 2020, published an outline plan for the company.

Comair’s airlines will remain grounded until November 2020 at the earliest as the company requires a substantial cash injection to resume trading.

The business rescue practitioners have approached 30 potential investors to secure new funding and 6 are in active discussions.

Whilst Comair intends to focus on its airline business, it is expected that Comair’s fleet will be substantially downsized from 27 aircraft to 13 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and three spare Boeing 737-400 aircraft.

With such a significant reduction in fleet it seems implausible that it will continue to operate under both the BA and Kulula names.

Neither BA nor its parent company IAG have made any official comment on the business rescue process. BA owns a 11.49% stake in Comair. If neither BA nor IAG participate in a recapitalisation of the airline, its shareholding will be wiped out.

It will be for Comair’s new shareholders to decide on its business model and whether the BA franchise should continue. Currently, BA is still selling flights on Comair from 1 November 2020.

Comair History Infographic
Comair History Infographic (Image Credit: Comair)

Advice For Passengers

Passengers who have booked flights on Comair through British Airways (ticket numbers beginning 125) for travel up to and including 31 October 2020 should contact BA in the UK to be rebooked.

Passengers who have booked flights through Comair directly (ticket numbers beginning 161) for travel up to and including 31 October 2020 should complete this form online, as per this guidance from Comair.

Any passengers who have booked flights through other means such as another partner airline or travel agent should contact them for advice.

Staying in South Africa, the business rescue practitioners of South African Airways are due to publish its business rescue plan on Monday 8 June 2020. Based on leaked drafts, this is expected to involve the South African government funding a new airline.

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