A Look At Kulula – Comair’s Low Cost South African Airline

Comair’s low-cost carrier (LLC), Kulula, has been an ever-present and easily recognizable presence in the South African budget market. With its eye-catching livery and affordable travel options, Kulula is one of the more well-known brands in the country. Simple Flying takes a look at where Kulula comes from and what it offers as a carrier.

A Look At Kulula – Comair’s Low Cost South African Airline
Kulula is one of South Africa’s most recognizable brands, offering affordable domestic travel options. Photo: Bob Adams via Flickr

A brief history of Kulula

Kulula is a low-cost carrier that operates domestic routes within South Africa. It was founded in 2001 as a subsidiary of Comair and is based out of Johannesburg’s OR Tambo and Lanseria airports. The carrier took delivery of its first aircraft in November of 2002, a Boeing 737-400 registered as ZS-OTF.

The main objective of the carrier was to bring a fully integrated service delivery option to domestic flyers in the country, at affordable prices. The word kulula  is derived from indigenous languages and translates as “it’s easy” – a fitting name considering the carrier’s business model.

Through the years it has established itself as a user-friendly travel option, with straightforward booking and payment procedures.

Fleet and routes

Kulula currently operates a fleet of ten aircraft from the Boeing 737-series. It has one remaining 737-400, as well as nine 737-800 aircraft. Historically, Kulula’s fleet also consisted of two Boeing 737-200s, and six McDonnell Douglas MD-82 aircraft.

Kulula aircraft are well-known for their interesting and often entertaining livery, with popular designs such as the Cow Plane, the Camo Plane, and the Flying 101 plane.

A Look At Kulula – Comair’s Low Cost South African Airline
The livery on Kulula aircraft is striking, such as the special “Flying 101” Boeing 737. Photo: Bob Adams via Flickr

The bright-green aircraft services six domestic destinations in South Africa:

  • Western Cape –  Cape Town International and George airports.
  • Eastern Cape –  Port Elizabeth International and East London airports.
  • Gauteng Province – OR Tambo International and Lanseria airports.
  • Kwa-Zulu Natal – King Shaka International Airport.

Services offered

As with most LLCs, Kulula operates with the bare necessities on its routes. Meals are not served during flights, as the longest Kulula flight is around two hours. Passengers have the option to purchase refreshments and snacks from an in-flight menu. The carrier publishes its own magazine titled “Khuluma” and this serves as the in-flight entertainment.

Members of the oneworld frequent flyer program may earn points when booking British Airways flights on the Kulula website. As a BA franchise, Comair integrates its LCCs into the alliance program. Unfortunately, points may only be earned at the completion of a flight. Furthermore, these points may not be redeemed for flights booked on the Kulula website. Kulula is no longer a part of the Avios Travel Rewards program.

The Kulula website brings all the different aspects of travelling under one banner, with customers able to manage their flights, car rentals, and hotels from one location.

Recent issues

On Tuesday, both Comair and Kulula’s flights were affected as multiple airlines in South Africa were grounded. This was a precautionary step taken to ensure that the aircraft were properly and thoroughly inspected to ensure that all regulations and protocols were being adhered to.

A Look At Kulula – Comair’s Low Cost South African Airline
Kulula aircraft were grounded on October 22nd, due to irregularities found in a maintenance audit by SAATA. Photo: Bob Adams via Flickr

The grounding came about after irregularities were found by maintenance audit firm South African Airways Technical (SAATA). After ensuring that the aircraft were indeed safety-compliant, regular service resumed on October 23rd.