Comair launches Nacelle, a technology joint venture

Johannesburg, 22 August 2018; Continuing its diversification beyond its core airline business, Comair has entered a joint venture with Information Technology company Infinea to launch a new business, Nacelle.

Erik Venter, Comair’s CEO says, “Like most industries, technology plays a pivotal role in our business. That’s why we’ve decided to spin off our IT budget and team into a separate entity that will provide a variety of IT related services, which will include the commercialisation of our intellectual property.  The new venture’s strength and opportunity lies in leveraging and commercialising Comair’s decades of discipline in operational processes, with Infinea’s deep expertise in software development and IT support. Nacelle will be a service provider in aviation and related sectors, providing services such as IT operations and support, IT project deployment, process design and software development, he explains.

Comair’s information technology department has now reached organisational maturity, scale and delivery where it is ready to undergo progression to a profitable entity, creating multiple new revenue streams that will generate additional shareholder value. It is unique in that it has the historical expertise of having built its own bespoke solutions within the airline operating environment, in collaboration with airline and IT subject matter experts, rather than merely being an external software development house, or the consumer of solutions from external suppliers.” Venter says. 

Using Comair as its primary customer, Nacelle’s vision is to develop and build the next generation of operationally tested solutions for a broader airline community, as well as for other industries that benefit from similar technology driven solutions including logistics, e-commerce, payment solutions, operations management, training and e-learning, and loyalty. Fred Baumhardt, Infinea’s CEO, says, “The journey towards digital is so much more than just apps, technology, or websites. Digital is a way of thinking, it’s a relationship between the customer and seamless processes, and amazing experiences. To truly achieve a digital vision a company needs to rethink its operating model, and assumptions. We are delighted to be partnering with Comair in launching the Nacelle brand, which apart from being a catalyst for digital revolution at Comair, is also an opportunity to benefit the entire aviation ecosystem, from customers, through to other airlines and airports.”

Nacelle will be in a position to leverage the incredible aviation talent, technology and processes at Comair, and further extend it with innovative platforms, payment solutions, and customer centric technology from Infinea. The result is a new brand giving the entire aviation ecosystem in Africa and beyond, new and exciting options to deploy cutting edge aviation and airport technology solutions, as well as managed services, he adds.

“Even more exciting is the partnerships that Nacelle is forging with property and airside management providers, parking companies, and aviation technology specialists with a view of bringing into Africa leading inexpensive aviation platforms and solutions and supporting them locally, whilst empowering local engineers with global skillsets,” Baumhardt concludes.

For more information on Nacelle, visit www.nacelle.co.za

About Comair Limited

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, kulula.com, as well as under the British Airways livery, as part of a license agreement.

In addition to scheduled and non-scheduled airline services, Comair also offers the following non-airline related services;

    • A catering service, Food Directions, originally launched to cater to the airline brands, now also provides a range of health and other food products to retailers.

    • Its award-winning domestic and international SLOW lounges have set the standards for airline hospitality in South Africa. It is expanding this offering, while its reputation as a lounge operator has resulted in management contracts from other companies.

    • Investment in technology to improve operational efficiency and offer innovative products to travel agencies and consumers has seen it become the country’s largest digital travel distribution network, covered under the Comair Travel

    • The Comair Training Centre, originally founded in early 2000 to train the airline’s own flight and cabin crew has grown considerably and now provides operational training for pilots and crew from other domestic and international airlines and even overseas air forces. Comair acquired EPT Aviation Training in 2017 with the primary objective to enhance its already formidable proposition, increasing its capacity for external commercial training of cabin crew, passenger handling, and travel and tourism training. It holds benefits for not only Comair, but the many young South Africans who envisage a career in aviation.

    • Comair’s most recent acquisition is that of the leadership development consultancy company, Metaco Holdings (Pty) Limited. The acquisition fits well with Comair’s training business that already encompasses courses for pilots, cabin crew, ground operations staff and travel and tourism. Through Comair existing client base, it has identified the demand for leadership and team coaching, and Metaco fits this requirement.

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 3 B-BBEE recognition. Comair has independently been certified by the Top Employers Institute, as one of the Top Employers South Africa 2018.

About Infinea

Through Several Brands Infinea owns software and payments services brands across Europe, Africa, Australia, and soon in the United States. Infinea operates Fintech, PropTech, RegTech, and AerospaceTech across its companies, as well as payments rail, and processing services on a global scale. It specialises in Aerospace technology, Fintech and Bank in a Box technology, as well as deep FX, point of sale retail, and Loyalty driven platforms. The company is based in the United Kingdom, with offices in London, Melbourne, Johannesburg, and Cape Town where it utilises state of the art engineering, microservices, and rapid project methodologies, to build, deploy, maintain and operate complex systems globally. Infinea has been operational since 1991 and has more than 50 global customers across a selection of industries in aerospace, travel, retail, and banking.

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