South Africa’s Comair And Kulula Suspend Operations Over Rising COVID Cases

On Friday, July 2nd, South African operator Comair announced that it would temporarily suspend all of its scheduled operations for kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair). This suspension, which begins today, is set to last for three weeks and follows the South African President’s announcement of a move to an adjusted Level 4 lockdown.

737 Comair British Airways Kulula
Comair operates passenger services under the Kulula.com and British Airways brands. Photo: Boeing

Comair’s three-week suspension of operations

According to a statement issued by the South African operator, flights will be suspended from Monday, July 5th, with a preliminary plan to resume services from July 30th. Of course, this resumption of services depends completely on a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions- particularly in Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are situated.

Apologizing for the tough decision, this is what Comair leadership had to say:

“This was a difficult decision, but we believe under the circumstances is the right course of action for our loyal customers and employees.” – Glenn Orsmond, CEO, Comair

737 Comair British Airways
The only Boeing 737s currently operating under the British Airways livery are the jets operated by Comair. Photo: Bob Adams via Wikimedia Commons 

South Africa’s adjusted Level 4 restrictions

As noted in our article regarding fellow South African airline Lift and its own service suspensions, adjusted Lockdown Level 4 requirements now mean that interprovincial travel for leisure to and from Gauteng province is prohibited. The lockdown has been prompted by a worsening COVID-19 situation in certain parts of the country.

Thus, while business travel and other special exceptions (listed below) would justify air travel, this is not enough to sustain operations by air operators with the significant loss of leisure passengers.

Travel to and from Gauteng is permitted for the following purposes:

  • Business Travel
  • Persons transiting through Gauteng
  • Transportation of Human Remains
  • Attendance of a funeral in or out of Gauteng
  • Students commuting to and from school daily
  • Moving to a new place of residence
  • Caring for an immediate family member
  • Oversight responsibilities by members of Parliament
  • Obtaining medical treatment
  • Returning to place of residence
737 Comair Kulula
Comair also operates services for budget airline kulula.com. Photo: Ercan Karakas via Wikimedia Commons

“[This suspension is a] bold, brave and responsible step in light of the prohibition on leisure travel to and from Gauteng, very little business travel and no connecting traffic from international carriers.” – Richard Ferguson, Comair business rescue practitioner

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For passengers with flight reservations

Comair’s service suspension will result in hundreds of flight cancelations for both kulula.com and British Airways passengers in South Africa.

kulula.com customers who are in possession of a valid ticket booked for travel between June 28th and July 29th, 2021, will be able to use their ticket within twelve months from the first date of travel without any penalty. Additionally, there will be no change to the booking fee, nor will a fare difference be charged.

On the British Airways side, the airline’s ‘Book with Confidence’ policy applies to all customers holding a valid ticket with British Airways flights operated by Comair.

Have you been affected by Comair’s service suspension or the new adjusted Level 4 restrictions in general? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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