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Comair, BA’s South African franchise, is bust – here’s what happens next

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Comair, the British Airways franchise operator in South Africa, suspended its operations last week. The airline has now been placed into liquidation and it appears very unlikely that it will resume flights.

Back in 2020, Comair filed for ‘Business Rescue’ which is similar to Chapter 11 in the United States. It managed to raise new money and returned to the skies. It hasn’t been a smooth experience, however, with flights suspended for a few days in March 2022 following safety concerns.

The airline has run out of money again. It was hoped that new investment could be found, but liquidators have now been appointed.

Comair goes into liquidation

If you never flew Comair, it is a fascinating experience.  You were on a BA-branded aircraft (see the photo above) with crew in British Airways uniform, operating to BA service standards, flying from Johannesburg to Cape Town or similar.

What happens to my booked Comair flight?

British Airways has issued two guidance notes about rebooking on Airlink and South African Airways.

The most important point is this. If you were booked London – Johnannesburg – Cape Town, connecting to Comair ON THE SAME TICKET, BA will rebook you on the direct London – Cape Town service.

This is an excellent result which will shave a couple of hours off the journey time.

However, if you have a standalone Comair flight ticket, rebooking is only available until 14th June. This will be a problem if you booked an Avios seat using a 2-4-1 voucher, since your Comair connection will be on a standalone ticket. You will be on your own to find an alternative flight unless you are travelling in the next few days.

Click here for the official details of rebooking on Airlink

Click here for the official details of rebooking on South African Airways

To be clear, the liquidation of Comair has no impact on the British Airways long haul flights between London and Johannesburg / Cape Town.

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Comments (27)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • yonasl says:

    “operating to BA service standards” … :-S

  • Martin says:

    Any rumblings on the other BA franchise, Sun-Air?

    • Rob says:

      No. Last year they said they weren’t planning to return until this Autumn, heard nothing since.

      • Nick says:

        Sunair have started flying again, albeit only on their semi-private corporate routes. They rock up in MAN most weeks, for example.

      • NDW says:

        Sun-Air is doing well. They have not returned to commercial service but have been running private route and charters for companies. Through covid Sun-Air was running an AstraZeneca triangle route. As well some routes for Siemens Renewable resources division.

  • SGJNI1961 says:

    Is BA not liable for a refund for tickets issued on 125- stock and payments made to BA, not to Comair, for December flights?
    I made new bookings on Airlink last week fearing the worst, i imaging prices will now rise significantly due to limited capacity on the main JNB-CPT route

    • Jonathan says:

      Yes, they are refunding and tickets that have been cancelled.

  • Simon says:

    I have three stand alone Comair bookings one in Nov and two in Dec.

    I have already received a “flight cancelled” email for one of the Dec flights with the option of a full refund but nothing about the other two as yet.

    I am re-booking myself tonight on alternatives (Safair) and will tackle the refunds as and when notified.

    • Simon says:

      Just called BA and actually ended up speaking with someone in SA. All three flights now cancelled and fully refunded although the seat cost is refunded separately by the “back office” so will take some time.

      Also three replacement Safair flights booked.

    • SGJNI1961 says:

      I have now also received the cancellation email. The Airlink tickets are well up already in J, not so bad in Y. Yet!

  • Diane says:

    We have a flight booked JnB to Port Elizabeth in October. Can anyone recommend an alternative airline. TIA

  • Nick says:

    The time limit on rebooking is just because those are the agreements that have been made so far with other carriers. I doubt they’d get away with saying the only option for everyone else is a refund even if they wanted to. As usual in this circumstance, patience is the name of the game. It takes a few days (/weeks) to find suitable agreements for all routes but I’d be astonished if they didn’t sort something out for those with future bookings.

    In any airline (or route) suspension, unless you’re travelling immediately, it’s always better to wait than rush into something you might regret later.

    • yorkieflyer says:

      Yes but if you can rebook yourself at a price and timings suitable, why not? You then have peace of mind

  • Mr B says:

    Best wishes to all involved at Comair, great little set up in SA. Service lounges and product were far superior to BA mainline short haul. Aircraft a little tatty mind you.

    • Mikeact says:

      Used them many times…..very sad.

    • JAXBA says:

      Comair were profitable every year since their foundation, up until the last few years. The 737 MAX issues (they were planning on receiving them, but switched to wanting compensation instead), the protectionism of SAA by the SA government, the large sum of money owed by SAA to Comair that only got a tiny fraction paid.. and then the pandemic. MN didn’t have low cost agile competition – they had a government backed SAA dinosaur dragging everything down, yet Comair were still regularly profitable…

  • Dave Gill says:

    What will happen with those booked to fly the first leg Jo’burg-CT-London?

    • yorkieflyer says:

      If on one ticket then should be rebooked direct JNB-LHR

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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