While Comair business rescue practitioners announced that both Comair and kulula.com would resume flights on December 1, Comair’s booking platform has not yet reopened while subsidiary kulula reopened for sales more than a week ago. With less than two weeks to go before Comair’s relaunch, and with the airline recently announcing that customers holding vouchers for unused tickets would not be permitted to rebook flights until after January 11, Comair seems to be cutting things a bit fine to fill up its aircraft with new bookings.
While the Comair website booking platform remains dormant a current notification on its website states: “Comair plans to take to the skies again on Tuesday, December 1, 2020. Ticket sales will reopen in due course.”
An agent source confirmed to Travel News that while kulula flights were already loaded and bookable for sale in the GDS, Comair inventory was still not bookable through these channels either.
In May, Comair was suspended from Iata, with the association advising agents to suspend ticketing activities on behalf of the airline, including the use of all automated systems for processing refunds or other transactions on its behalf. Travel News contacted Iata to establish whether ticketing authority had been reinstated but no response had been received at time of publication.
When Travel News contacted Comair for comment on the delay in loading inventory for travel agents to sell, an airline spokesperson responded that all commercial contracts had been put on hold when Comair went into business rescue.
“These contracts now need to be renegotiated before we can offer bookings on British Airways and kulula.com via travel agents. This process is now under way and we look forward to soon being able to provide customers with all booking options across both airline brands.”
BA Vitality ticket refunds delayed
The following notification is being distributed by Comair to Discovery Vitality clients in connection with refund applications for British Airways tickets that, in some cases, were submitted months ago: “Kindly note that BA International deactivated our access to their system when Comair went into business rescue. Sadly, due to this, no refunds or any re-bookings for existing ticket holders on British Airways International have been actioned and unfortunately we have to wait until such time the system is activated again and for staff to return to work to process the required work. This means that no refunds are currently being processed, which means we have not received any funds from BA in order to process your refund. We are working closely with British Airways International due to flight cancellations and we were advised that customers will receive their refunds but that it will still take some time.”
Club ITC and owner of The Travel Space, Debbie Webber, said as the Comair travel office managed Vitality ticket sales, it made sense that BA International did not want to refund client money to an organisation in business rescue. However, the delay in receiving refunds was frustrating for Vitality clients, particularly when direct and agent refunds had been processed by BA International months ago.
Comair’s spokesperson advised that the refund process was nearly complete and confirmed that British Airways would definitely be continuing its franchise agreement with Comair.
According to kulula.com the airline has currently relaunched the following four routes:
Flights from Lanseria have not been relaunched yet.
“We will be operating all kulula.com domestic routes, with the exception of the Durban/Cape Town and Lanseria routes, which will be added as more aircraft become available. Customers who are booked to depart from or arrive at Lanseria International Airport, will be re-accommodated on a flight out of or into OR Tambo, at a time nearest to their original departure time,” says the airline on an FAQ on its website.
“The re-introduction of kulula flights on the domestic network is the first phase of Comair’s ramp up to full operations over the next few months. British Airways domestic and regional flights will re-open soon as will kulula flights from Lanseria. Comair will initially operate a fleet of 15 aircraft across both airline brands, gradually increasing as the remainder of the fleet returns to service over the next few months,” explained the spokesperson.
SLOW Lounges and catering
Comair will reopen its Slow Lounges on December 1 with the exception of SLOW XS at Lanseria International Airport.
The airline has also temporarily halted its full catering offering on board all British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com flights in line with health and safety regulations to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“Pre-packed meals and snacks will be offered to limit the exchange of hands and to limit the exposure of potentially contaminated crockery and cutlery to our customers and employees. Comair can only commit to cater for the following special meal options currently – child, vegan, diabetic, low cholesterol and Hindu meals. Customers are requested to refrain from bringing their own food and drinks on board,” said the airline.