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SAA in talks with British Airways to take over Comair franchise

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South African Airways is reportedly in talks with British Airways about taking over duty-free operations from Comair, which was liquidated last May.

This is according to John Lamola, the interim Chairman and CEO of South African Airways, who confirmed on September 2, 2022, with News24 the interest of the carrier based at Johannesburg-OR Tambo airport to take over the operation of the defunct Comair in the operation.

Created 76 years ago, Comair had been operating flights on behalf of the British national airline since 1996 (with the BA livery), as well as low-cost flights with Kulula; both had been liquidated on May 31 because they had not found the financing necessary for their operations.

The British airline canceled the franchise agreement under which it managed the company after Comair’s business rescue practitioners filed a court application to convert the company’s rescue process into a liquidation procedure.

The provisional liquidator said he understood that British Airways was looking for a new partner in the domestic air market. However, the company “does not comment on franchise agreements as this is commercially sensitive information”, British Airways representatives told South African newspaper Fin24.

At its peak, Comair held up to a 40% share of the South African domestic market. The defunct airline also accounted for 22% of the frequency supply in the national market at the time of the cessation of operations. Its fleet consisted of three Boeing 737-400s and nineteen Boeing 737-800s. It served five cities in the country.

British Airways has not publicly made any official announcements yet on the matter.

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