Johannesburg, 30 January 2012: Comair Limited, South Africa’s leading aviation company listed on the Johannesburg Stock exchange, is displaying staying power during these tough economic conditions. Globally airlines are all feeling the pinch and 2012 will be a watershed where only the most agile will survive says Comair CEO, Erik Venter.
Since the deregulation of the South African domestic airline industry in 1991, British Airways and low-fare carrier kulula.com, both operated by Comair Limited, have remained two of only eight private sector airlines to survive in a marketplace with a 73% failure rate. Building on this solid reputation, Comair is now employing hard-hitting tactics to remain at the top.
“The weak economy and poor consumer spend, high oil prices, excessive ACSA charges, a weakening local currency and increased competition, all threaten the growth of local air travel. World-wide, the airline industry has been forced to recognise the need for radical change to ensure sustainability and profitability. Cutting down on costs and increasing business efficiencies are top priorities for Comair,” says Venter.
As part of this aggressive strategy to improve efficiency and increase revenue, Comair is implementing new technology with the introduction of the Sabre Sonic CSS suite, a powerful revenue generating reservations system that includes inventory management and check-in systems. “It will also enable great innovations in product development and customer experience,” says Venter.
Route reviews and rationalisation to ensure contribution to profitability have seen Comair cancel two services to neighbouring countries. “The decision to discontinue the Lanseria to Maputo and Gaborone routes in the last quarter of 2011 was prompted by the fact that the market cannot support fares that are high enough to keep these routes profitable” explains Venter.
The delivery of the first of eight new-generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft later this year will also see Comair operating at higher efficiency levels. “The new 800’s bring with them a number of advantages; they are technologically more advanced, require lower maintenance and are more eco-friendly as they emit fewer carbon emissions. Consuming considerably less fuel per passenger, the 800’s are economically more efficient,” says Venter.
Comair has also decided to make a capital investment in building its own in-house catering facilities in Johannesburg and Cape Town, which will assist the company in saving up to 25 percent on supplier costs. “We need to remain creative in the re-engineering of operations, which means keeping a close eye on the way we do business. This prompted re-negotiating with our suppliers and we are confident that we can provide greater variety and the same quality that our customers expect by doing it in-house” says Venter.
The airline is also expanding its crew base to Cape Town, which will reduce costs on staff hotel accommodation by 80 percent. This move will ultimately see a third of Comair’s pilots and a third of its cabin crew relocating to Cape Town.
As part of Comair’s training and business expansion strategy the company has also added an ATR simulator to its current stable of three Boeing simulators. The Comair Training Centre, and the simulator building in particular, boast a non-conventional, dome shaped structure, which sets it apart from the traditional simulator environment. “The simulators generate further revenue for our airline, and we see it as part of our core business,” says Venter.
Comair is the only airline operator in South Africa, after the state-owned national carrier that offers both full-service and low-fare regional travel. “The British Airways and Comair partnership sets us apart from competitors and allows us to operate with confidence in the current challenging market. kulula.com, South Africa’s first and favourite low-fare carrier remains at the forefront of innovation and we are confident that Comair’s culture of agility, coupled with sound business practices and increased operational efficiency will see us weather the present industry crisis,” says Venter.
Comair is a leading South African aviation company that is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange (JSE: COM). Since 1996 the company has operated the local and Southern African regional services of British Airways for 15 years. Comair also operates Africa’s first low fare airline, kulula.com, which celebrated its 10th year anniversary last year. This quirky brand has since inception revolutionalised air travel in South Africa by making flying much easier and affordable to customers. For more information, visit www.comair.co.za
For further information, please contact:
Comair Ltd: Heidi Brauer (Executive Manager: Group Marketing)
Tel: 011 281 5877, Cell: 082 557 8376, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Portia Ntsaluba (Account Manager)
Tel: 021 469 1567, Cell: 083 687 0890, Email: email@example.com