The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has indefinitely suspended flights operated by Comair and its low-cost subsidiary Kulula.
Services had initially been suspended for 24 hours, following concerns over safety, but a statement on Comair’s website (dated March 13, 2022) now reads:
“Comair is unable to confirm when it will start flying again as the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has indefinitely suspended its operating licence until such time as the SACAA has had time to review and satisfy themselves that the items are closed.
“This is despite the airline working through the night to provide documentation the SACAA had requested following a review of certain policies, systems and procedures.
“Comair was advised of a 24-hours suspension to its licence on the morning of March 12. That afternoon the CAA requested additional information, which Comair provided overnight and into the early morning of March 13, 2022.”
Comair operates a number of domestic South African flights under British Airways colours as part of a franchise agreement, while low-cost subsidiary Kulula also serves domestic routes from its hub at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International airport.
According to Reuters, the SACAA said Comair had experienced a number of safety problems in the past month, ranging from “engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions”.
Commenting on the news Glenn Orsmond, Comair’s CEO, said:
“We have since received an acknowledgment that the information has been received, but no other formal communication has been received to date. In the interim the CAA has issued a press release saying it will be reviewing and assessing the documents provided.
“This is a huge blow to our customers, employees and the flying public as it effectively takes 40 per cent of the capacity out of the market. The implications for the aviation sector and the country are considerable should the suspension continue for any length of time.”
“Our priority now is to assist passengers who have been stranded. We have chartered two aircraft to assist vulnerable passengers and those who most urgently need to travel.”
Comair filed for business rescue in May 2020, stating that the “extraordinary circumstances” of the Covid-19 pandemic had “completely eroded our revenue base”.
Readers can also follows Comair developments on this forum thread.