Back to business as usual for South Africa's airlines at last

South Africa's troubled airline industry is slowly getting off the ground as Covid-19 eases off again in the country and the vaccination programme continues. Kulula is the latest of South Africa's airlines to resume a semblance of normal operations.
Image by rudragos from Pixabay

Flights commence for Comair’s Kulula.com

After grounding all its passenger flights on 26 March 2020, Comair, the parent company for South Africa’s low-cost airline Kulula.com, finally took to the air again in a limited capacity on 1 December.

Now, after a year’s hiatus, Kulula has resumed its operations from Lanseria Airport as of 1 April.

For now, Kulula airline’s flight bookings to Cape Town and Durban are offered in a limited capacity from this hub. Kulula hopes to increase the frequency of flights as demand increases in the months to come.

These two routes reopened just in time for the Easter break and are set to become a permanent fixture on Kulula’s programme. This is good news for both business and leisure travellers who enjoy the quick wit and low prices of this extraordinary carrier.

Kulula.com’s well known for its quirky yet efficient approach to customer service and aims to continue this pleasurable and effortless experience from Lanseria Airport.

According to executive head of sales, Brian Kitchin, Lanseria is the perfect fit to further these aims due to its excellent positioning, close to both Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Lanseria chief executive, Rampa Rammopo, expressed his excitement at the return of Kulula and was overjoyed to welcome Kulula.com and its passengers back to the airport.

He reiterated Lanseria’s commitment to rebuilding air travel despite the challenges of last year, and to improving the local economy as well, furthering South Africa’s position as the gateway to Africa.

South Africa’s airlines hit hard by the 2020 lockdown

Last year, Comair was forced to undergo business rescue after losing over R500m in the first half of 2020 thanks to the Covid pandemic causing a 65% reduction in airline travel. It’s a well-known fact that the lockdown spared no-one in the airline industry, with state-owned Airports Company of SA (Acsa) reporting a R1.47bn loss between January and September 2020.

Unlike Comair, the long-suffering SAA is still grounded 15 months into the business rescue process. Strikes have added to the woes of SAA. To add to its woes, the SAA Pilots’ Association (SAAPA) went on strike on the eve of the company announcing completion of its rescue programme.

The pilot’s grievances revolve around outstanding salary payments and the conditions of their retrenchment. According to SAAPA’s Grant Black, the pilots haven’t been paid salaries for almost 12 months, while SAA is blaming the pilots’ salary agreements for SAA’s woes.

The good news is that the business rescuers claim to have restored SAA to a solvent, liquid entity that should be ready to resume normal operations soon.

See more of South Africa

Barring another upswing in Covid cases and the implementation of further restrictions, it won’t be long before it’s business as usual for South Africa’s airlines.

Until then, support them as much as you can by taking advantage of the current lull in international tourism to get to know your country better.

SA Airlines
SA Airlines is a leading South African destination for everything from cheap flights in SA to carrier overviews, airport information and live SAA flight status updates.
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