South Africa suspends BA’s Comair franchise
South Africa’s aviation regulator SACAA on Sunday announced the indefinite suspension of flights by British Airways franchise partner Comair for security reasons, after a series of incidents involving its planes.
There have been a spate of incidents involving what the SACAA said was a “concerning number of flights” operated by BA Comair and its low-cost subsidiary Kulula.com this month, including engine trouble and landing gear malfunctions.
The suspension follows an investigation at Comair by the SACAA, which uncovered issues posing “an immediate risk to safety and security”.
On Saturday it ordered a 24-hour precautionary suspension of Comair’s air operator certificate (AOC) and asked the carrier to provide evidence that it complied with safety management regulations and was taking corrective action.
On Sunday the regulator confirmed it was extending the suspension while all the evidence provided by Comair is reviewed.
“The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) confirms that the AOC is now indefinitely suspended pending the operator addressing all the findings (of the investigation)”, the regulator said on its website.
“This is a huge blow to our customers, employees and the flying public as it effectively takes 40 percent of the capacity out of the market,” Comair CEO Glenn Orsmond said.
“Our priority now is to assist passengers who have been stranded. We have chartered two aircraft to assist vulnerable passengers and those who most urgently need to travel.”
Comair said it “continued to engage constructively with the SACAA” and would update customers via SMS and social media channels.
Comair, founded in 1946, operates British Airways planes in Southern Africa. In May 2020 it filed for business rescue, a procedure similar to bankruptcy protection, in order to restructure the company.