South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) on Saturday suspended Comair’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) for 24 hours, hoping the airline could adequately clear outstanding safety relayed issues in that time.
SACAA has now indefinitely grounded all Comair’s British Airways and Kulula branded and marketed flights. It is unclear how long it will take Comair to satisfy the regulator and take off to the South African skies again.
Statement From Comair:
13 March 2022: 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 12 March. That afternoon the CAA requested additional information, which Comair provided overnight and into the early morning of 13 March 2022.
“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,” says Glenn Orsmond, Comair CEO.
“This is a huge blow to our customers, employees and the flying public as it effectively takes 40% 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.”
He says the airline is continuing to engage the SACAA in a bid to get the suspension lifted but has been forced to cancel flights indefinitely as it cannot say when this may be.
“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.”
Customers will be kept informed via SMS.
For customers on British Airways (operated by Comair) flights, British Airways’ booking with confidence policy will apply. Details can be found here: www.britishairways.com/travel/book-with-confidence/public/en_gb Customers may also contact the Contact Centre on BAContactCentre@comair.co.za.
kulula.com customers can rebook with no change penalties, subject to availability of the same fare class. Customers wishing to rebook should e-mail MNContactCentre@comair.co.za.
Statement From SACAA:
This is a massive blow for anyone needed to get around South Africa by flying, as Comair’s British Airways and Kulula flights represent roughly 40% of the capacity.
I already noted yesterday that 24 hours is a very short time to clear any regulator-related issues regarding safety.
Let’s hope that Comair can reach an agreement with the SACAA by clearing any outstanding issues and getting its AOC back so that these flights can take off again.