British Airways Africa Franchise Comair To Be Liquidated

Comair is to be liquidated after it failed to raise new funds to restart flights.

London Air Travel » South Africa

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

Note: This article has been updated since first published to confirm that Comair is to be liquidated.

British Airways’ franchise partner in South Africa, Comair, is to be liquidated.

Comair suspended all flights and ticket sales on 31 May 2022. At the time the company advised that it was securing new funds and would restart flights as soon as these were obtained.

Its Business Rescue Practitioners have issued a short statement, today Thursday 9 June, to advise “they no longer believe that there is a reasonable prospect that the Company can be rescued.”

Comair has subsequently issued a statement to confirm that liquidation proceedings have started.

Continue reading “British Airways Africa Franchise Comair To Be Liquidated”

BA’s Africa Franchise To Resume Flights

The South African Civil Aviation Authority has ended the suspension of Comair’s operating licence with immediate effect.

London Air Travel » South Africa

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

British Airways’ franchise partner in Africa, Comair, is set to resume flights from Thursday 17 March.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority suspended Comair’s operating licence on Saturday 12 March 2022 following a number of safety related incidents at the airline.

The SACAA is now satisfied that its enquiries into the “Level 1” incidents that required an immediate response are closed.

The suspension of Comair’s operating licence has now been lifted with immediate effect.

Whilst Comair has been grounded, BA has offered passengers whose connections on Comair to its long haul flights are cancelled the option to rebook on to AirLink or South African Airways.

Continue reading “BA’s Africa Franchise To Resume Flights”

BA’s Africa Franchise Suspends All Flights

The operating licence of Comair, which operates as a BA franchise, is suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority in South Africa.

London Air Travel » South Africa

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

The operating licence of British Airways’ franchise partner, Comair, has been suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority in South Africa (“SACAA”).

Comair was forced to cancel all flights on Saturday. The SACAA suspended Comair’s operating licence following a number of safety incidents. These included engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions.

Three of these incidents were described as a “Level 1” finding. This is considered an immediate risk to safety and security that must be closed immediately.

The suspension was initially described in a statement by the SACAA on Saturday as precautionary, pending a response from Comair that it had effective risk and safety management systems in place.

Continue reading “BA’s Africa Franchise Suspends All Flights”

British Airways’ Africa Franchise To Restart In December

British Airways’ Africa franchise Comair plans to gradually resume flights from December 2020.

London Air Travel » South Africa

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

British Airways’ franchise partner in Southern Africa, Comair, plans to resume flights from December 2020.

Comair has been in a business rescue process since early May. It had been required to suspend flight operations on 26 March due to lockdown in South Africa. The airline had also been suffering due to high debt levels, the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX and non-payment of compensation by South African Airways.

Under a Business Rescue Plan published yesterday, Wednesday 2 September, the airline will be recapitalised. It will receive a financial injection of R500 million by a new investor in return for a 99% shareholding in the airline.

Comair will also require additional funding from lenders of R1.4 billion. This will comprise R600 million of new debt. Comair’s existing debts will be deferred to provide the remaining R800 million, with repayments deferred for 12 months and interest deferred for 6 months.

It is intended that Comair maintain its dual brand structure, operating as British Airways under a franchise and as Kulula. According to the list of creditors BA was owed R50,998,152 (~£2.2m) by Comair. As a consequence of the Business Rescue process, BA’s shareholding will be wiped out.

Comair aims to resume flight operations from December 2020 with a view to operating a full flight schedule by June 2021.

It is expected that Comair’s fleet will initially comprise 20 aircraft of which 17 will be Boeing 737-800 aircraft and the remaining 3 will be Boeing 737-400 aircraft.  This may ultimately increase to 25 aircraft and compares to a fleet of 27 aircraft before Comair suspended operations.

The Business Rescue Plan is subject to a vote by creditors and shareholders which will close on Friday 18 September.

Continue reading “British Airways’ Africa Franchise To Restart In December”

British Airways Relief Flights From Johannesburg

British Airways is operating one-way scheduled passenger flights from Johannesburg to London Heathrow in September.

London Air Travel » South Africa

London Heathrow Terminal 5
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Whilst a return to scheduled long-haul travel is many months away, there are signs of progress in opening up air travel “bubbles” on long-haul routes.

BA has restarted scheduled passenger flights to India with return flights to Delhi and Mumbai, and one-way only flights from Bengaluru and Hyderabad to London Heathrow.

These routes have specific procedures for booking with flights to Delhi and Mumbai closing for sale 72 hours before departure.

BA has now made a similar move for South Africa. The airline will be operating special one-way only flights from Johannesburg on Sunday 6, Friday 11, Friday 25 and Sunday 27 September 2020.

These flights will leave Johannesburg in the morning, rather than the evening. The exact flight times quoted by BA differ from what is currently showing on ba.com Flights will be operated with Boeing 777 aircraft.

These flights close for sale 7 days before departure. Seats are offered for sale in World Traveller economy, World Traveller Plus premium economy and Club World business class at fixed prices. Passengers must ensure they complete the forms specified by BA in advance of travel.

There are also specific procedures for check-in, which takes place at the Garden Court Hotel at OR Tambo International airport.

Whilst passengers can connect from domestic flights in South Africa, BA’s franchise partner Comair has suspended all flights until November 2020.

More detailed guidance is available in a document BA has released for its travel trade partners.

Whilst these are only two one-off flights, it is hoped it is at least the start of progress between airlines and governments to reopen scheduled international travel in a secure manner.

Update Friday 25 September

British Airways will resume daily scheduled flights from London Heathrow to Cape Town and Johannesburg on 1 October 2020.

Please see here for BA’s route network for October 2020.

British Airways’ Africa Franchise In Business Rescue

British Airways franchise partner Comair has entered a formal Business Rescue Process in South Africa.

London Air Travel » South Africa

Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft Matazo Kayama "Waves And Cranes" Project Utopia Livery
Comair Boeing 737 Aircraft Matazo Kayama “Waves And Cranes” Project Utopia Livery (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways’ franchise partner in Africa, Comair, has entered a Business Rescue Process.

This is a formal restructuring process, similar to Chapter 11 in the United States. Business Rescue Practitioners have been appointed to oversee the running of the company and a restructuring, with the aim of avoiding a liquidation.

Originally founded in 1946, Comair also operates the airline brand Kulula and SLOW lounges in Africa. Its airlines are currently grounded and it does not expect to resume operations until October 2020 at the earliest.

British Airways owns a 11.49% stake in Comair. It became a BA franchise in 1996. It operates routes to destinations in South Africa, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe from its main hub at Johannesburg with a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft. 

The BA franchise is clearly very important to BA’s brand presence in South Africa and providing connecting traffic to and from BA’s long-haul routes to London. Comair is one of two remaining BA franchise partners. The other being SUN-AIR of Scandinavia.

Comair’s state owned rival South African Airways is expected to be liquidated with a new airline formed.

Comair has issued the following statement. Note the comment from its CEO Wrenelle Stander about reviewing joint-ventures. Whilst Comair’s BA franchise is highly regarded, it is of course at liberty to end its franchise agreement with BA.

Continue reading “British Airways’ Africa Franchise In Business Rescue”

Virgin Atlantic Returns To Cape Town

Virgin Atlantic is to return to Cape Town after a five year break with a new winter seasonal service from London Heathrow.

London Air Travel » South Africa

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Virgin Atlantic is to return to Cape Town after a break of five years with a new winter seasonal service from London Heathrow.

Flights will operate daily from Sunday 25 October 2020 with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Virgin used to fly to Cape Town until April 2015 when the route was suspended as part of a wide-ranging review of the Virgin Atlantic route network.

Cape Town is a hugely popular winter long-haul destination and the arrival of additional capacity will be welcomed.

Following the closure of Thomas Cook, the route has been exclusively operated by British Airways with daily Boeing 747s from London Heathrow and a winter seasonal Boeing 777 service from London Gatwick.  It’s fair to say that the interior condition of Virgin’s 787-9 aircraft is significantly better than some of BA’s soon to be retired 747s that are used on this route.

Flight VS478 will depart London Heathrow at 16:20 arriving at Cape Town at 05:55.

Flight VS479 will depart Cape Town at 08:00 arriving at London Heathrow at 18:00.  

Note the return to London Heathrow is a day flight and some may passengers prefer a night flight. There is of course the option of flying back to Heathrow overnight on Virgin Atlantic’s daily service from Johannesburg.

Flights will go on sale from Tuesday 18 February 2020.

British Airways Launches London Heathrow – Durban

British Airways will fly from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Durban three times weekly from Monday 29 October 2018.

London Air Travel » South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
KwaZulu-Natal South Africa (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has launched a new direct route from London Heathrow to Durban.

BA will fly from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Durban (King Shaka International Airport) three times a week from Monday 29 October 2018.

Flights will be operated with a three class Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

This is the only direct route between Europe and Durban. Emirates flies direct to Durban from Dubai. Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines also serve Durban via Johannesburg.

Although flights do not operate daily, it will be possible to connect to domestic BA services to/from Cape Town and Johannesburg on flights operated by BA’s franchise partner Comair.

This does solidify BA’s position on the London – South Africa market.  BA is the sole operator on London Heathrow – Cape Town, to where BA can despatch up to three Boeing 747s a day in the winter.  BA also operates up to two Airbus A380s a day on London Heathrow – Johannesburg, where South African Airways is cutting capacity.

One noteworthy difference to Cape Town and Johannesburg is that the return flight to London is a day flight rather than an overnight flight, which is obviously a matter of personal preference.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

London Heathrow – Durban 

Flight BA41 Depart London Heathrow 16:55 – Arrive Durban 05:25 (Monday, Thursday, Saturday)
Flight BA40 Depart Durban 07:30 – Arrive London Heathrow 18:25 (Tuesday, Friday, Sunday)

(Timetable is indicative and is subject to change according to days of the week and seasons.)

Update December 2020

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, this route appears to be permanently suspended.

South African Airways cuts London Heathrow – Johannesburg

South African Airways is to reduce flights between London Heathrow and Johannesburg from twice to once daily from Friday 20 April 2018. Flight SA237 will last operate from London Heathrow on Thursday 19 April 2018.

London Air Travel » South Africa

South African Airways is to cut one of its twice-daily flights between London Heathrow and Johannesburg from Friday 20 April 2018.

Flight SA237, which departs London Heathrow at 21:00, will last operate from London Heathrow on Thursday 19 April 2018.

The state-owned (and reportedly loss-making) airline has taken the sting out of the announcement by saying that the one remaining fight (SA235) will be operated by a new Airbus A330-300 aircraft from Sunday 25 March 2017. This two class aircraft features upgraded business class seating (pictured above) with direct aisle access for all passengers. Currently, both South African Airways flights from London are operated with Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

South African Airways will be leasing its Heathrow slot pair to an as yet unnamed airline which does allow them to reinstate the flight if circumstances change.
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British Airways Launches Seasonal Gatwick – Cape Town

British Airways is operating a winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Cape Town, to complement existing flights from Heathrow.

London Air Travel » South Africa

British Airways Boeing 777 at London Gatwick
British Airways Boeing 777 at London Gatwick

British Airways is to launch a winter seasonal service from London Gatwick to Cape Town in South Africa from Thursday 24 November 2016.

Flights will operate three times a week and will complement the airline’s existing twice daily service from London Heathrow. It will also compete directly against Thomas Cook’s new service to Cape Town from London Gatwick which runs from 15 December 2016 to the weekend of Saturday 25/Sunday 26 March 2017.   The seasonal service is currently scheduled to return from mid November 2017 to late March 2018.  However, this may change depending on the commercial performance of the route.

BA flights will be operated using a three class Boeing 777 aircraft which will offer Club World business class, World Traveller Plus premium economy and World Traveller economy.

This new route also adds to a growing portfolio of long-haul routes from London Gatwick which includes Norwegian’s long-haul flights to the USA and Cathay Pacific’s new service to Hong Kong from 2 September 2016.

BA itself is launching flights from London Gatwick to Costa Rica on 27 April 2016 and Peru on 4 May 2016. BA also returns to New York JFK from London Gatwick on 1 May.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

London Gatwick – Cape Town (Winter 2016)

Flight BA2065 Depart London Gatwick 18:00 – Arrive Cape Town 07:50 (Mon, Thurs, Sat)
Flight BA2064 Depart Cape Town 19:10 – Arrive London Gatwick 05:05 (Tue, Fri, Sun)