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Suspension ends for British Airways partner in South Africa

March 18, 2022
4 min read
Comair British Airways plane. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
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Editor's Note

This story has been updated with new information.

Flights are returning to the air for a South African airline that partners with British Airways, days after regulators indefinitely grounded the carrier's planes.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority announced Wednesday it would immediately reinstate the operators’ certificate for Comair, after suspending it last Saturday amid “a spate of occurrences” the agency said posed safety risks.

In its most recent statement Thursday, Comair said it was “making good progress” toward restoring its flight schedule.

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A Comair British Airways plane. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Flights grounded for days

This saga began last weekend when South African regulators announced a 24-hour suspension of Comair’s license. At the time, the SACAA called this a “precautionary” measure following what it said were recent incidents involving Comair flights, including “problems ranging from engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions, amongst others.”

Based in South Africa, Comair serves destinations within South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean. It flies as a partner with British Airways, and operates low-cost carrier Kulula.

Comair’s leadership said it was working to provide documentation to government officials over the weekend, but regulators announced an indefinite suspension of the airlines’ operators’ certificate last Sunday.

According to the airline, Comair serves about 40% of the market in parts of the region, which meant significant disruption to flight schedules.

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Related: Returning to South Africa in 2022

A route map on Comair’s website shows the destinations it serves. (Screenshot from Comair)

Certificate reinstated

More than four days after grounding flights, South African regulators announced that the agency would immediately reinstate Comair’s operators’ certificate.

The agency said this decision came after its "audit" of Comair dating back to March 7, which included "reviewing Comair’s safety management systems and quality control management systems.”

In a statement Wednesday, Comair said “no safety and security findings were made” regarding flight operations or maintenance, and argued that it has an “enviable” track record over its 76 years in operation.

The airline said Thursday it was “making good progress” toward restoring its full flight schedule, and anticipated regional and domestic service would be restored heading into the weekend.

“Our focus is now to get our operations back to normal as quickly as possible,” Comair CEO Glenn Orsmond said.

A Comair flight. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Passengers affected by suspension

As it restores service after several days with flights grounded, Comair announced a series of measures aimed at helping both its British Airways and Kulula customers affected by the disruption.

During the suspension, Comair said it “did what it could” to help “vulnerable customers and those that urgently needed to travel,” including chartering flights and accommodating customers on other airlines “as far as possible.” But the carrier noted it could not accommodate all passengers affected.

The airline recommends customers booked on British Airways flights operated by Comair contact the airline to rebook (or contact their travel agent).

Kulula customers can receive full credit for the value of their ticket, provided that they rebook within six months for flights within a year of the original reservation.

Featured image by Comair British Airways plane. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees