Comair, Boeing upbeat on new fleet

At 72 Comair is South Africa’s oldest independent airline and is reported to be the only commercial airline to have continually turned a profit for that long. It also has the country’s most modern and efficient fleet, using the world’s best-selling airliner, the Boeing 737. At a media briefing today (SUBS: Thursday 15 March 2018), jointly hosted by Comair and Boeing, Comair CEO Erik Venter outlined the next phase of the airline’s fleet renewal programme. Comair is scheduled to take delivery of the first of eight , with the last one due in 2022. This marks the next stage of the airline’s renewal strategy, which started in 2011. It will see the company phasing out the remaining Boeing 737-400s and becoming the first airline on the continent to take delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX.

Venter says, “This will give Comair’s two airline brands, and British Airways (operated by Comair) the benefits of increased seating capacity, lower operating costs, and lowered downtime for maintenance."Comair already has the most modern and efficient fleet in South Africa, which increases our competitiveness."

“The reasoning behind this investment goes to the core of the operating efficiency of our airline and non-airline brands. The airline business has very narrow margins, so to operate sustainably you need the right equipment, operating systems, levels of customer service and the right people. One example of getting this right is the large proportion of our 2 100 employees who’ve been with the company for more than 10 years.” Comair’s airline brands operate to 11 destinations in South Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean, and that includes the ninth-busiest route in the world (rated by airline movements), between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Venter says, “In 2017 there were nearly 33 000 flights by various airlines on that route, so consistency is important for us on that route and all those on which we operate. “Our fleet renewal strategy means we use 33% less fuel per passenger and the aircraft are 7% more fuel and cost-efficient overall. It means that increases in the oil-price actually work in our favour.”

This focus on efficiency also drives Comair’s longstanding relationship with Boeing. J Miguel Santos, the Managing Director for Boeing International Sub-Sahara Africa says that the 100-year-old manufacturer this week produced its 10 000th Boeing 737, a Guinness World Record. The 737 is already the world’s best-selling airliner.

He says that IATA estimates that Africa has just 2.2% of the global airline passenger share, but 16% of the world’s population: an indication of the potential for growth in the sector in coming years. Africa also has a number of fine, large airports, many of which are underutilised, and Open Skies could help ensure these are used to their full potential. That growth will help drive a demand for personnel, which mirrors a global trend: Boeing’s most recent Boeing Commercial Outlook estimates that Africa will need 20 000 new pilots, 24 000 new technicians and 26 000 new cabin crew by 2035. Considering that the 10 countries worldwide with the youngest populations are all in Africa, this will be a boon for youngsters seeking aviation careers.

Boeing has instituted an internship program to help nurture young talent in Africa, and works closely with airlines in Africa, as it has done for more than 60 years.

About Comair 

Comair Limited is a South African aviation and travel company, offering scheduled and non-scheduled airline services within South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, as its main business.
The company operates under its low-fare airline brand,, as well as under the British Airways livery, as part of a license agreement. Managed and owned by South Africans through its listing on the JSE, Comair has been operating successfully in this country since 1946. Comair is the only known airline to have achieved operating profits for 71 consecutive years, has a safety record which is internationally recognised and a level 4 B-BBEE recognition. Comair has independently been certified by the Top Employers Institute, as one of the Top Employers South Africa 2018.
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About Boeing

Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries.
Boeing products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes, a business unit of The Boeing Company, is committed to being the leader in commercial aviation by offering airplanes that deliver superior design, efficiency and value to customers around the world. There are more than 10,000 Boeing commercial jetliners in service, flying passengers and freight more efficiently than competing models in the market. More than 5,700 Boeing airplanes are currently on order.
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