Travellers on kulula.com and local British Airways flights woke on Wednesday morning to find that their flights had been cancelled indefinitely after an announcement that Comair had suspended all local British Airways (operated by Comair) and kulula.com flights from Tuesday evening May 31 2022.
Travellers are understandably angry after Kulula.com announced a “winter-warmer sale” on Monday 30 May – just 24 hours before announcing the suspension of flights.
The immediate impact on commuters was apparent, with other airlines, such as FlySafair, showing fully booked flights for Wednesday and several flights sold out on Thursday. It did, however, appear that, unlike the suspension of Comair flights in March, the competitor airlines had not resorted to price gouging.
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This is at least some good news to those holiday makers who may have booked flights for the June/July school holidays and need to consider rebooking with another airline. For example, one could still book a flight from OR Tambo to Cape Town on Saturday June 18 for R950 on FlySafair.
In short, Comair has run out of money and requires additional funding to put the planes back in the air. According to Comair, “the company’s business rescue practitioners have advised that the process to raise the necessary capital is in progress and there is reason to believe such funding may be secured.
It is not clear at this stage whether Comair will be successful in obtaining funding or, if successful, when flights will resume.
Comair CEO, Glenn Orsmond, said in a press release that “Comair is inherently a viable business. We have two of the best airline brands in the country. We are on track to carry over 4 million passengers this year and generate R5.3 billion in revenue. We have excellent staff, a modern fleet, good sales and distribution channels and low operating costs, which is why we believe the funding will be secured.”
For customers on British Airways (operated by Comair) flights, British Airways’ booking with confidence policy will apply. Details can be found on the British Airways website britishairways.com (https://bit.ly/36cfJYC). Customers may also contact the Contact Centre on BAContactCentre@comair.co.za
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Kulula.com customers on suspended flights have the option of a Travel Bank credit or a full refund of their ticket value. The Travel Bank credit can be used by the passenger or someone else. Customers can email MNContactCentre@comair.co.za
While Comair will be paying affected travellers refunds, it is worth knowing that, if you booked with a Visa or Mastercard card, you have additional protection under the chargeback policy that governs all Visa and Mastercard transactions.
When you use your credit card for transactions, you qualify for chargeback rights if merchants don’t deliver goods and services. A chargeback prevents customers from suffering financial loss and engaging in lengthy disputes with merchants.
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The bank takes care of this within a clearly defined process. When a merchant has not delivered a service or product paid for by a card, there would be a chargeback right (which can be processed to the merchant’s acquiring bank). Typically, chargebacks are applicable from the point at which the service was to be delivered.
However, one can only apply for a chargeback if the airline did not agree to a refund. Affected travellers will first need to apply to Comair for the refund. Failing that, they could then approach their bank for a chargeback claim.