June 15, 2024


Delighting finance buffs

How not to run an airline (Comair edition)


Just 24 hours ahead of announcing its selection – on Tuesday night time – to “voluntarily suspend” all Kulula and British Airways regional flights from Wednesday (June 1), Comair ran a sale across its personal distribution channels which promised up to 30% off flights (it ran a sale by means of particular travel brokers on May possibly 25).

At this level, surely the administrators of the group realized that in the absence of funding the airline was about to hit the wall?

Is this not totally unconscionable?

On April 26, it did specifically the identical issue (with up to 30% off flights).

Discover a pattern at month-close?

1 could possibly problem whether the administrators should to be charged with reckless buying and selling – this is not much off the shenanigans Mango pulled for the duration of its death throes (in the absence of a bottomless pit of condition funding). At least Comair didn’t ground its flights on the early morning due to the fact it owed ATNS/Acsa money, as Mango was compelled to do.

It continues to be unclear who Comair’s present creditors are.

Comair has run out of cash. But this is not new news.


As much again as January 31, the business rescue practitioners warned in their month to month report that the group necessary “further funding”. They mentioned that it had dropped somewhere around R100 million in formerly booked but ‘unflown’ revenue, generally due to the Uk travel ban in December as a end result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. The majority of this is inbound British Airways income.

However, the administrators would’ve recognized this six months in the past – in December – by now. The want for funding has been mentioned in just about every monthly report from the business rescue practitioners because that date.

In March, it confirmed in depth to Moneyweb that it “has been in an ongoing procedure of restructuring its stability sheet from both equally a credit card debt and fairness standpoint because the starting of the year, which has involved ongoing engagement with Comair’s buyers and loan companies to assure that the appropriate kind and quantum of funding is raised”.

Admittedly, this was just before the pressured grounding of the Comair fleet, which flies approximately 40% of the market, by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for 4 times in March for the reason that of security problems.


The small business rescue practitioners stated at the end of March that: “Although the money influence of this suspension was serious, it has not resulted in a change to the Company’s current funding needs.” So although the airline was forcibly grounded, it did not make factors improved or worse.

It gets stranger …

The inexplicable pity bash mea culpa in final week’s Monetary Mail, no doubt penned by Comair’s PR handlers, could not have been even worse-timed. In the ‘opinion’ piece, CEO Glenn Orsmond mentioned, with regards to its failures for the duration of the grounding, that: “We should have communicated additional evidently and engaged right with the media. We dropped the ball, and we will not repeat the error.”

This was a comprehensive-site apology … bizarre timing for an airline possibly about to hit the wall.

In the piece, Orsmond (/his handlers) wrote: “The FM penned a scathing critique of Comair in March … after our flights were being quickly suspended by the SA Civil Aviation Authority [CAA]. It built for unpleasant reading, but the journal was correct: airlines rely on the belief of their passengers, and this is as significantly about open and crystal clear communications as it is about retaining a spotless safety record.”

‘Orsmond’ noted it was “gratifying to take note that everyday sales quickly reverted to the standard pre-suspension levels after the CAA gave us the all-clear”.

“This is an indicator of the toughness of our two airline brand names, and our faithful customer foundation.”

A cynic might argue that this was just as a end result of provide becoming reduced than pre-Covid with a marketplace demanding a whole lot of seats, primarily right after Mango’s failure.

The phrase believe in is accomplishing a lot of get the job done in Orsmond’s letter. Airways rely fully on belief. Still, in some way Comair penned this tone-deaf “opinion” a 7 days prior to it “voluntarily” grounded its fleet.

We really do not know the actual circumstances of the negotiations in between Comair (its very mysterious ‘rescue consortium’) and its creditors and funders. Evidently these talks have not yielded final results.

And it is not apparent why funders and creditors will abruptly, in the subsequent few days, offer funding for the ailing airline (which, remember, has publicly required funding given that January). Creditors and funders will have recognized of these prerequisites from December currently.

This is undesirable.

Discovery Vitality CEO Dinesh Govender claimed in a letter to buyers on Wednesday that for flights booked amongst June 1 and June 7, “Discovery Financial institution will quickly refund the volume [customers] put in on that flight into their Discovery Bank account by the stop of enterprise today”.

He highlighted that it doesn’t “have additional information and facts at this phase pertaining to the resumption of [Comair’s] flights”.

Maybe a lot more ominously, the letter states that: “While Comair’s own internal refund and credit history processes nevertheless apply for all other affected customers, we are operating on alternate reserving and refund solutions for all Vitality members to be introduced right before the close of June.” [emphasis Moneyweb’s]

Discovery Vitality offered R100 million in funding to Comair in pre-payment for tickets booked as component of the rescue approach.

FNB’s eBucks, historically tied to Comair, hedged its bets a amount of yrs in the past by featuring discounts to benefits clients throughout a selection of airways past Kulula and British Airways.

Discovery released its Vitality Vacation system for Discovery Financial institution buyers earlier this year in an hard work to derisk the exposure to Comair to provide buyers with discounts across a selection of airways.

This perceived decline of self confidence from its solitary most significant lover, Vitality, can’t be positive.

Correct now, even though the range of inbound travellers by using British Airways will be confined since of the year, executives at the Uk airline will certainly be asking yourself no matter whether or not they can rely on Comair to continue on to fly inbound passengers (from BA) under licence.

The licence is exceptionally lucrative and is the foundation of the total small business rescue strategy …

A story for yet another working day.


Supply connection