As a proudly South African aviation and travel group founded in 1946, Comair has operated successfully within Southern Africa for more than six decades with an internationally recognized safety record.
Since 1996, we have serviced local and regional routes under the British Airways livery as part of our licence agreement with British Airways Plc and launched South Africa's first low-cost airline, kulula.com in 2001.
Laying Down the Foundation
Who would have thought that the idle chatter amongst three South African Air Force pilots in the middle of the Egyptian desert would become South Africa's longest operating airline after the national carrier? Over six decades ago, AC Joubert, JMS Martin and Leon Zimmerman had laid down the foundations for a business that would offer pilot training, a charter service, and possibly the sale of an occasional aircraft. From these aviation roots, a long-standing relationship was developed between Comair and the Cessna Aircraft Company.
In 1946, Comair history was made when commercial Air Services began operations with its charter flight from Rand Airport in Germiston to Stamford Hill Aerodrome in Durban. A Fairchild UC-78's (found in Cairo after the war) was operated as a charter service to some of the remotest places
Securing the Future
With the new South African Aviation regulations in 1948, Comair could begin its first scheduled service using a new Cessna model 195. Carrying a pilot and four passengers, the Cessna followed the daily return route from Johannesburg to Durban via Kroonstad, Odendaalsrus, Bloemfontein, Bethlehem and Ladysmith.
However, not being commercially viable, when Government support was rejected, the service was to come to an end.
At the time, the Anglo American Corporation were developing gold mines in the Free State and approached Comair to continue the service – at least to the Free State Goldfields. A limited subsidy was offered and Comair continued to operate a scheduled route, so securing its future existence.
Entering the Mainstream
Comair entered the main domestic routes in 1992.
The Boeing 737-200s and Fokker aircraft carried almost 100,000 passengers a year with leisure travellers on safari dominating the market. The route network included services to Cape Town, Durban, Richards Bay, Skukuza, Manzini, Gaborone and Harare with 200 departures per week. Comair was listed on the JSE on 22 July 1998, and as part of the conditions of the adopted business rescue plan on 2 September 2020, the Company was delisted from the JSE on 7 April 2021.
Inheriting a Reputation
In 1996, Comair joined British Airways as a franchise partner and became known as British Airways Comair, taking on the colours and livery of British Airways International. The British Airways brand brought with it a rich heritage of stylish travel, reputation for service excellence and a wide range of products such as the prestigious Executive Club frequent flyer programme.
As franchise partner of British Airways and a member of the oneworld® alliance, Comair offers seamless connections to the international route network and continues to serve local premium customers with the same standards in mind.
In 2001, South Africa's first 'no-frills' carrier, kulula.com was launched. The name kulula is derived from the Zulu language meaning 'easily'.
As Comair continues to position kulula.com as more than just an airline but rather an entire travel experience, the brand aims to provide customers with the easiest way to book, the easiest way to pay and above all, the easiest to afford.
Catering for Passengers
Food Directions was launched in 2012 as Comair's very own onboard catering unit. Incorporating in-house catering not only improved cost control but also enabled both British Airways Comair and kulula.com to provide customers with fresh, top quality in-flight meals.
Comair Travel Brands
In 2007, after investing in world-leading technology that could deliver innovative travel to consumers and travel agencies in South Africa, Comair launched its travel and holiday packages.
Through acquisition, expansion and partnerships, Comair has established the
country's largest and broadest digital travel distribution network. Its brands include:
- kulula holidays
- Holiday Tours
- African Dream Holidays
- Harvey World Travel - Holiday Travel
- African Images
For Comair, partnerships will continue to
form along its path of growth and expansion.
Opening of the Comair Training Centre
In the early 2000's, Comair opened its own training centre based at the Operations Building in Rhodesfield, Johannesburg
The Comair Training Centre (CTC) is situated adjacent to O.R. Tambo International Airport, it provides operations training for the Boeing B737-2/3/4/5/800 series for both local and
international flight deck aircrew, cabin crew and flight operations personnel.
In 2009, the first domestic SLOW Lounge was launched at O.R. Tambo International.
setting a Standard
Together with this inspiring new product and its partnership with FNB and RMB Private Bank, Comair positioned itself as a creative and innovative market leader. Close on the heels of its success, the domestic SLOW Lounges at Cape Town and Durban International Airports opened in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Shortly after, the brand's reputation spread and the city of Sandton saw the opening of SLOW in the City.
SLOW Lounges provided a perfect sanctuary from the fast pace of travel and modern life and set a global standard for airports, consistently winning awards for its creative excellence.
Aviation IT Solutions
In 2018, Comair entered into a joint venture with an IT company, Infinea (Pty) Ltd, establishing a jointly held company called Nacelle (Pty) Ltd. Nacelle is a technology service provider in aviation and related sectors, providing services such as IT operations and support, project deployment, process design and software development.
Looking Forward into the Future
For close to 70 years, Comair has provided consistent value, reliability and professionalism. British Airways and kulula.com now carry an average of 4.8 million passengers per annum locally and regionally. Our reputation of quality and passion for service will ensure Comair continues to play a major role in the South African aviation and travel industry.