British Airways’ franchise partner in South Africa, Comair, has suspended all flights and ticket sales with immediate effect.
This will continue until the airline secures new funding.
Comair suspended all flights and entered into a Business Rescue Process in 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic. The company had secured new investment and restarted flights with a smaller fleet of aircraft.
A number of factors have affected its planned recovery. This includes rising oil prices and countries including the UK putting South Africa on the “red list” in December 2021 due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant. This alone was said to have resulted in a working capital shortfall of ZAR 100 million / £5 million.
The South Africa Civil Aviation Authority also temporarily suspended Comair’s operating licence in March 2022 due to concerns over a number of safety incidents.
Comair’s Business Rescue Practitioners have advised for some months that the company needed additional funding. This, along with renegotiating payment terms with lenders, was said to be in process.
Comair issued a statement on the evening of Tuesday 31 May 2022 to advise it has no option but to suspend all flights and ticket sales until new funding is obtained.
[Johannesburg, 31 May, 20h00] Comair has announced that regrettably it is obliged to suspend all British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com flights from Tuesday evening 31 May 2022 pending successfully securing additional funding. The company’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) have advised that the process to raise the necessary capital is in progress and that there is reason to believe such funding may be secured. Once received, the airline will be able to recommence operations, but regrettably under these circumstances, the practitioners have no choice but to voluntarily suspend all scheduled flights until the funding is confirmed.
British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com ticket sales have also been suspended with immediate effect. “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,” says Comair CEO, 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 4 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.”
Impact On BA Long Haul Passengers
British Airways has secured a rebooking agreement for passengers connecting to long haul flights between the UK and South Africa.
Passengers booked to travel up to 31 July 2022 whose connecting flights on Comair have been cancelled can be rebook on to Airlink.
Passengers should contact BA or their travel agent to rebook.