Airlink to help stranded British Airways passengers, to refund sale tickets

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Numsa is concerned by the potential loss of over 1 200 direct jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs linked to the airline.
Numsa is concerned by the potential loss of over 1 200 direct jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs linked to the airline.
  • Comair has announced alternative arrangements for passengers holding tickets on certain of its British Airways flights.
  • SAA is also helping out with international passengers.
  • Low-cost airline will refund passengers who booked tickets on a sale announced shortly before Comair suspended flights.

Comair has struck a deal with Airlink to help out stranded British Airways passengers with new flights on certain dates, while those who booked tickets during a sale announced shortly before flights were suspended, will be refunded.

The local British Airways franchise is owned and operated by Comair, and is separate to the flagship British Airways which flies between London and South Africa. Comair, which also operates, announced last week that it was suspending flights due to a lack of money. 

Comair's agreement with Airlink will be for flights from 7 to 12 June. Affected passengers have the option to rebook with Airlink at no additional cost, subject to availability. British Airways has also arranged for international customers who had booked regional or domestic connecting flights with Comair, to be re-accommodated on SA Airways.With regards to, Comair said those who booked tickets via the promotion will be refunded by the end of this week. "We understand the negative perceptions created by the kulula ticket sale even though the sale had been triggered a week earlier. Bearing in mind that Comair only receives the money once the flights are flown, we have agreed with our bankers to release the funds back to our customers," says Comair CEO Glenn Orsmond.

Comair has been in business rescue for the past two years. It says it has been impacted by rising debt due to pre-pandemic fleet renewal plans, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, and recently the rising fuel cost.

Internal communications between employees towards the end of last week, seen by Fin24, has alleged that Comair had about a week in which to secure funding or face liquidation. One employee claimed that they had been told by the business rescue practitioners (BRPs) that failing meeting this deadline, they would be legally bound to apply for liquidation.

Meeting the BRPs

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) announced that it is set to meet with Comair's business rescue practitioners and the company's management on Tuesday to discuss the fate of the airline, and to get feedback on the progress of securing a funder. 

Numsa is concerned by the potential loss of over 1 200 direct jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs linked to the airline. The union blames Comair's CEO and management for the dire financial position the company finds itself in.

The Dynamic People's Union of South Africa (DYPUSA) said in a statement it was saddened by the struggles of Comair.

"It is always the case that when elephants fight, it is grass which suffers the most. Workers are in the dilemma as we speak. It is no longer about nationalisation vs privatisation but continuous poor governance, lack of transformation, limited leadership skills, bankruptcy of experience in the upper echelons at the beleaguered airline," DYPUSA's general secretary Mashudu Raphetha said in a statement.

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