Aviation companies and a plethora of other travel-related services were now down to 45 percent of the sales that they used to have following Comair’s liquidation, according to FlySafair chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon.
This has been a hard knock for firms like the Airports Companies South Africa and Air Traffic and Navigation Services, he says.
This has made the sustainability of this infrastructure concerning.
“The concern is that the infrastructure we operate in is built upon an expected industry size. Post-Covid the industry has only recovered to about 60 percent to 70 percent of what it was before and this loss takes us down to about 45 percent of what it was,” Gordon said.
He says FlySafair is greatly saddened by the news on Comair, which has been a stalwart in South African aviation for decades. The impact on the industry would be significant as the Comair brands offered 40 percent of the domestic seat capacity and it was the loss of a significant player.
FlySafair has said it will do the best it can to plug the consequent gap. However, the airliner cautioned that it was not possible for it to pick up 40 percent of the flying overnight as it simply did not have the space.
“But even before this we’ve had some pretty strong growth plans in place. We’ll be adding at least three aircraft to our fleet before the end of the year,” Gordon said.
“At this stage we need to focus on our costs. With the fuel price where it is our costs are incredibly high so it’s very challenging. As ever, we want to focus on our customers, ensuring that they get a great service: hassle free travel and on time flights. Lastly we’re going to work on our growth plans to see where we can support the industry,” he said.
Last week, the privately-owned Lanseria International Airport chief executive Rampa Rammopo said Comair, through kulula.com, contributed significantly to the airport’s business.
Following this liquidation, Rammopo says that they are likely to scale down on some of their commercial activities “until such time as we find another operator able to fill this gap”. It has said that discussions are therefore ongoing with some of these operators.
FlySafair says at this stage, they hope Lanseria International Airport’s contemplated short-term austerity measures will have a minimal impact on its operation.
Currently, FlySafair is not impacted by any operational changes at Lanseria International Airport and will await any guidance that the airport might offer them on what this means for their company.
“If there’s high demand and we have capacity in terms of crew and aircraft, we’ll see if there’s scope to add in additional flights, which is something we’ll look at across the full network,” Gordon said.
FlySafair began operations in October 2014, but the company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Safair, which has been in operation for more than 50 years.
Safair has been involved in passenger airlines for a long time. Operating on a lease basis they have flown for numerous local and international airlines including SAA, Mango, Kulula, RyanAir and many others.