Hein Kaiser
Journalist
2 minute read
9 Jun 2022
6:05 am

Aviation analyst doubts whether Comair’s brands will take off again

Hein Kaiser

Concern has been raised that Comair was unable to say whether salaries and benefits could be paid this month.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) members demonstrate, 3 June 2022, outside the Comair offices in Kempton Park, demanding the removal of Comair CEO Glenn Orsmond and the Business Rescue Practitioner Richard Ferguson, from Redford Capital, for failing to turn the airline around. Picture: Michel Bega

It’s been nine days since Comair was grounded and admitted it was broke, but its airline brands may not have nine lives to go.

The British Airways (BA) franchise and budget carrier Kulula are on their knees financially and looking for investors to pour fresh cash into its coffers. If it doesn’t happen, liquidation is the next destination.

Aviation analyst Phuthego Mojapele doubts whether Comair’s brands will take off again and cited likely investor hesitance, as well as the major trust deficit between the company and consumers after two groundings and a morally questionable sale.

If the company does get back on the runway, he suggested, it may have to be as an entirely new entity and more than likely without the BA franchise.

In its statement yesterday, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) shared concerns about whether Comair would get back on its feet or disappear with its tail between its legs. Labour met business rescue practitioners and chief executive Glen Orsmond on Tuesday.

Numsa said: “[The business rescue practitioner] confirmed that Comair’s financial situation is dire. He said the airline has … to find an investor in the shortest time possible, or it will be wound down.”

In addition, concern was raised that Comair was unable to say whether salaries and benefits could be paid this month.

Mojapele said the Kulula firesale at the beginning of the month was a scramble for capital, to prop itself up. But Comair may not have raised as much as it hoped and shut up shop.

ALSO READ: Comair in dire straits, just weeks away from liquidation – Numsa

Sean Bradley, chief business development officer for Africa of Travelwings.com, said in a time when the industry is recovering, it is concerning what the impact of this will have on the consumer and the travel industry.

The impact will be felt along the value chain in the greater travel and tourism sector.

He said: “It’s got to be a leadership issue and Glen Orsmond has a lot to answer for. I cannot imagine an entire executive team did not see any of this coming.”

Last year, an internal Comair survey by Solidarity showed staff were dissatisfied, had no confidence in the leadership or Orsmond. The environment was described as toxic. When Comair was grounded this year, labour also blamed Orsmond, demanding his removal.

– news@citizen.co.za