Ntsako Mthethwa
2 minute read
4 Oct 2016
8:13 am

Comair bringing Slow Lounge to Lanseria

Ntsako Mthethwa

And a handful of other things you didn’t know about the country’s only listed airline group…

Comair, which operates the SLOW Lounge brand for partners including British Airways and FNB, will open a new concept “SLOW XS Lounge” at Lanseria International Airport in December. It announced this in the group’s annual report, released last week.

Comair says the lounge “will be smaller than, but similar in quality to, the SLOW Lounges”. Its liquor licence application reveals the lounge will be situated on the first floor, in the “pier extension to the Lanseria Main Terminal Building”.

Demand for the lounges – which the group argues have set a global standard – continues to increase, and the lounge at Cape Town International Airport was “extended and refurbished” in 2014, roughly doubling in size. During the past financial year, a sum of R23 million was invested to extend and upgrade the lounge in the international departures area at OR Tambo International Airport. This extension has allowed Comair “the opportunity to allow other international airlines, who have contracted with the Group, the opportunity to experience the SLOW concept”. These include Air France, KLM and alliance partner Delta, with whom the group operates a codeshare agreement (via its kulula.com brand and route network).

It’s solidly profitable

On a profit basis, Comair ranks satisfactorily globally. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast a profit per passenger of $9.31 globally in 2015, with a small improvement in the number for 2016 (at $9.59). But, these figures are heavily distorted by North American airlines, where IATA sees profits at $21-$22 per passenger. African airlines are forecast to make a loss of nearly $4 per passenger in 2015, with a big jump to a loss of 93¢ in 2016. On a net margin basis, it saw the global figure being 4.6% in 2015 and 5.1% in 2016. On this basis, Comair performed very well.

Profits have improved and while they’re not quite back at the near record levels enjoyed in the 2014 financial year, yield has improved with a meaningful increase in the number of passengers per flight (125 from 120). The downward pressure on airfares in a sharply lower oil price environment (and a more competitive market) is plain to see.

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