Failure to secure funding has taken around 40 per cent out of South Africa’s aviation capacity
Richard Ferguson, who had been seeking to save the business for two years, gesê: “We did our utmost to secure the funding, but – when we were unable to do so – had no option to lodge the application. It is an extremely sad day for the company, its employees, its customers and South African aviation.”
The collapse has taken around 40 per cent out of Suid-Afrika’s aviation capacity.
Comair had a Southern African network connecting with BA services, flying between Johannesburg and neighbouring countries including Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It also operated South Africa’s first budget airline, Kulula, whose name means “It’s easy”, primarily serving Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Mr Ferguson added: “With its two airline brands – British Airways (operated by Comair) and Kulula.com – market share, modern aircraft fleet, experienced employees, sales and distributions channels, Comair was an inherently viable business.”
The carrier was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and in particular the severe travel restrictions applied to South Africa by the UK and other countries.
Comair filed for “Business Rescue” – a bankruptcy protection status similar to “Chapter 11” in the US – in May 2020, and continued to operate during a “focused restructuring of the company”.
But its vlugte were suspended by the South African Civil Aviation Authority for some days in March 2022 over safety concerns, and it stopped flying completely on 31 Mei.
While Comair Limited was a separate commercial entity from British Airways, Sean Doyle, chief executive and chairman of BA, was a non-executive director.
BA’s links from London Heathrow to Johannesburg and Cape Town are unaffected.
A British Airways spokesperson said: “We’re contacting customers due to fly with Comair to offer them rebook and refund options, including flights on other carriers where possible.
“British Airways services between London and South Africa continue to operate as normal and we’ll continue to provide support and assistance to our franchise partner and their colleagues at this difficult time.”
South African Airways, the heavily loss-making rival of Comair, continues to be propped up by the government.