It looks like the days of the once-flourishing Comair are officially drawing to a close, as business rescue strategies have failed to keep the airline from going under.
According to Moneyweb, business rescue practitioners (BRPs) have officially filed to liquidate the commercial carrier.
In order to survive, Comair would reportedly have needed to raise a stratospheric sum – in the order of about R100 million – to compensate for the losses sustained as a result of COVID-19 regulations and travel bans, as per this article in IOL. The application was lodged in court yesterday, June 9.
Comair has been in operation for just under eighty years, offering domestic flights as a derivative of British Airways and later spawning economy airline Kulula.com.
Earlier this year, the travel line was dealt a mortal blow when British Airways and Kulula flights were grounded by The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), following a lapse in safety protocols.
South African travellers were left deeply frustrated when they found themselves unable to procure refunds or book alternative flights at the last minute.
Despite working through the night, Comair will not be able to resume operations today. The SACAA still needs to review documentation provided overnight. We continue to engage constructively with the SACAA.
— kulula (@kulula) March 13, 2022
Now, it’s uncertain whether investors and shareholders will be fully compensated even after the company’s liquidation and the sale of its fleets, as “the estimated shortfall from the sale of assets [in 2020] amounted to R5,11bn,” according to IOL.
Once regarded as an immensely profitable South African airfare courier, Comair has effectively been out of operation since March this year.
SA Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has expressed regret at the fate of the group, which, according to EWN, employs 1 200 people, whose livelihoods have been precarious since the advent of the pandemic.
The deteriorating health of the South African air travel industry primarily motivated business rescue endeavours, but as BRP Richard Ferguson has since stated:
“We did our utmost to secure the funding, but when we were unable to do so, had no option to [but to] lodge the application. It is an extremely sad day for the company, its employees, its customers and South African aviation”.
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