Reintroduction of kulula.com flights is the first step for Comair
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JOHANNESBURG – Comair said on Monday that the reintroduction of kulula.com flights on the domestic network was the first phase of its ramp up to full operations over the next few months.
Rescue consortium representative Glenn Orsmond said Comair would initially operate 15 aircraft across both airline brands, and gradually increase the number of aircraft as the remainder of the fleet returned to service over the next few months.
Comair has begun plans to operate a few domestic flights six months after it was placed in business rescue, but its shares will not resume trading on the JSE.
The operator of British Airways (BA) in South Africa said it was taking new bookings for low-cost carrier kulula.com ahead of its planned take-off on December.
Orsmond said that customers who booked tickets before the group was placed in business rescue would be able to use the value of their tickets through the Comair Travel Bank for future travel from mid-January.
“This is an important moment for Comair, for all the employees who have been so patient and supportive through the business rescue process, for our customers, the flying public and the country,” Orsmond said.
“A strong, competitive airline sector benefits everyone, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our first customers on board and gradually restoring our schedule and network.”
Comair said it would be operating all kulula.com domestic routes, with the exception of the Durban/Cape Town and Lanseria routes, which will be added as more aircraft became available. Comair’s shares were suspended from trading on the JSE after the vast majority of its creditors and investors voted in favour of placing it in business rescue.
Last month, the Competition Commission gave a conditional approval of the proposed bid by SA Bidco to merge with Comair.
The conditions include a commitment to allocate a portion of Comair’s shares to a broad-based black economic empowerment structure and employment offers to 200 retrenched staff when jobs become available at the new airline after the merger.
The airline’s investors have secured the required credit approval from various commercial lenders for new debt funding and the deferral of repayments on existing debt.
Comair in August approached lenders for additional funding of more than R1 billion required for it to fly again following a successful adoption of the business rescue plan.
It is anticipated the business rescue process will be concluded by the end of March, after which Comair will to operate as a sustainable business.
Comair spokesperson Stephen Forbes said the company’s shares would remain suspended.