Comair’s business rescue practitioners met with creditors and agents this week regarding the airline’s business rescue process, but agents say the airline has still not given them the clarity they need on technical and operational issues.
Shortly after Comair’s announcement of voluntary business rescue, in which it said it expected to resume flights only on November 1, Iata sent a notification to travel agencies informing them that it had suspended all Comair ticketing activity with immediate effect. More than a week later the airline has provided little or no communication to agents on why the suspension occurred, if it was temporary or permanent, what this means for the clients of kulula.com, and British Airways’ SA franchise (BA Comair) clients and for international airline interline agreements.
Travel News contacted Comair about these points, but the airline’s spokesperson said only that Comair had voluntarily gone into business rescue and was currently unable to operate scheduled passenger services on which interlining could take place due to the total lockdown of airline passenger services in South Africa.
In the meantime, airlines (such as Virgin Atlantic) are advising trade partners of the withdrawal of their interline agreements with kulula.
Gm of Travel Counsellors SA, Mladen Lukic, told Travel News that while he had been internally reassured that Comair’s Iata suspension related to the airline’s announcement about moving into business rescue and would be rectified shortly, there had been no official communication from Comair or British Airways International on how agents were to proceed with bookings. He added that the situation was also peculiar, as SAA, SAX and MK had all recently gone into business rescue but none had been suspended from Iata in the manner that Comair had.
“Comair, kulula and domestic British Airways flights are very intertwined locally, and with inventory prior to November 1 having been removed from the GDS prior to the Iata suspension, there is a desperate need for operational clarification that has not yet been addressed,” said Mladen.
He added that it was his hope that Comair would make it through the business rescue process as it had historically been a profitable airline prior to the catastrophic effects of COVID-19, which had placed dozens of airlines around the world in similar positions.
“There is currently zero demand for air travel during lockdown but as the market reopens, domestic airlines will be vital to restart our economy. While international borders remain closed to discretionary travel, South African companies will need to look within the borders of our country for their client base. Due to South Africa’s geographical size, domestic air traffic will therefore be vital to stimulate internal trade,” he added.