Tourism: Rising COVID-19 cases forces South Africa’s twin domestic carriers, Comair and Kulula to suspend aviation operations

Kulula

South African airline, Comair announced on Friday, July 2, 2021 that it would temporarily suspend all of its scheduled operations for kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair).

This suspension, according to a report on simpleflying.com, is set to last for three weeks and follows the South African President’s announcement of a move to an adjusted Level 4 lockdown.

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.

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

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.

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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

Meanwhile, Comair business rescue practitioner, Richard Ferguson, stated that “[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.”

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

On the other hand, 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.

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