This week, South Africa’s civil aviation regulator (SACAA) made the move to ground planes from Comair, which includes low-cost carrier Kulula and operations from British Airways in the region, indefinitely over safety issues that have not yet been addressed, according to SACAA.
According to SACAA, the issues range from engine failures and malfunctions to landing gear problems that pose an “immediate risk” to operations and must be addressed immediately in order for Comair to start flying once again.
Comair, speaking earlier this week, said it had been working “through the night” to provide documentation that the SACAA had requested, but was still engaging with SACAA in order to get the suspension lifted.
When that will be is still up in the air as Comair continues working to resolve the issues, which SACAA says has not yet been addressed.
The move drops about 40% of normal capacity from the South African market until the suspension.
“This is a huge blow to our customers, employees, and the flying public as it effectively takes 40% of the capacity out of the market. The implications for the aviation sector and the country are considerable should the suspension continue for any length of time,” Comair CEO Glenn Orsmond said.
While Comair has done what it can to help stranded passengers, including chartering aircraft to assist “vulnerable passengers and those who most urgently need to travel,” some are still stranded.
With travel plans impacted over the suspension, other carriers are trying to fill that gap in capacity, including South Africa Airways (SAA).
SAA this week announced that it was adding capacity following the Comair grounding, including deploying larger aircraft on some routes that have been most impacted, including Durban and Capetown. SAA said that while it was not bumping fares, it would continue to add capacity until Comair’s issue is resolved.