R3.5-billion investment in fleet upgrade fundamental to Comair's business strategy
Johannesburg, 9 September 2013: South Africa’s privately-operated full-service carrier, British Airways (operated by Comair), is proud to announce the arrival of its first Boeing Next-Generation 737-800, which forms part of the aviation group’s fleet upgrade plan. This aircraft heralds a new phase for the flight operator, which aims to replace its entire British Airways (operated by Comair) fleet, which currently comprises of six B737-300s and nine B737-400s.
Locally, JSE-listed aviation company, Comair Limited, has an exclusive relationship in sub-Saharan Africa with British Airways and has managed it under a licence agreement since 1996, proudly flying under the colours and livery of British Airways.
“British Airways Plc has a proud heritage and strong history of more than 80 years in South Africa, of which- 17 years have been with Comair. We are excited about our new aircraft and are confident that this investment will help continue to deliver the great value and premium comfort synonymous with the British Airways brand,” says Iain Meaker, Commercial Distribution Executive for Comair.
The local British Airways fleet upgrade forms part of its operator, Comair’s broader medium-to-long term business plan to deliver further efficiencies and product enhancements. “The R3.5-billion investment in its fleet upgrade is fundamental to Comair's business strategy of consistently improving customer service and value, while ensuring a sustainable airline,” says Meaker.
Comair, which carries 5.1 million passengers a year, embarked on its fleet upgrade in 2012 when it purchased four new Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft for its no-frills airline, kulula.com. The new fleet will be partly financed through equity (15%) as well as loans (85%).
In its British Airways configuration the 158-seat aircraft will service the popular Johannesburg and Cape Town route. Along with the overall additional capacity, there will be 20 seats to accommodate more of our Club (Business class) customers and 138 seats for our customers in Traveller (Economy class). A second B737-800 is expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2014.
Meaker says that globally, airlines have experienced pressure on operating costs due to the volatile fuel price and high maintenance costs. “The 737-800’s utilise 18 percent less fuel per seat than the aircraft we are replacing, thereby saving two million-litres of fuel per aircraft per year for the equivalent total seats. The 17 additional seats further contribute to the improved efficiency. Both are a critical component in managing the impact of high fuel prices,” says Meaker.
He adds that the new Boeing 737-800 aircraft will also require significantly less maintenance than the B737-300 and B737-400s in its existing fleet, allowing for higher utilisation and lower operating costs. All of Comair's pilots have been trained extensively on the new aircraft as Comair invested in a new Boeing 737-800 flight training simulator in 2011 at a cost of R80 million.
“Comair is committed to providing world-class air travel within southern Africa, and the British Airways fleet upgrade will help to deliver just that. The aim is to make the travel experience more comfortable and convenient for our customers,” concludes Meaker.
Notes to editors:
About British Airways (operated by Comair)
British Airways (operated by Comair), is a premium, full service airline operating over 400 flights per week in southern Africa which includes Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Harare, Livingstone, Mauritius, Victoria Falls, Windhoek and Maputo.
As a franchise partner of British Airways, Executive Club customers travelling within southern Africa on British Airways (operated by Comair), will earn Avios as well as Tier Points. Avios are earned every time members travel with British Airways or a partner airline as well as when making use of one of the Executive Club partners. Avios can be redeemed for flights as well as for upgrades with British Airways. Members also earn Tier Points through their flight activity which determines their Executive Club status. As members progress through the various tier levels within the Executive Club they are entitled to additional benefits and services.
Besides having an extended route network in southern Africa as well as globally, British Airways’ route network is further enhanced through its oneworld® alliance partnership.
For more information, visit ba.com.
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 its British Airways Plc. 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 67 consecutive years and has a safety record which is internationally recognised.
For more information on Comair, visit www.comair.co.za
On behalf of: