|Founded||1943 (as Commercial Air Services)|
|Hubs||OR Tambo International Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||Executive Club/Avios (when operating for British Airways)|
|Alliance||Oneworld (when operating for British Airways)|
|Headquarters||Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa|
|Revenue||ZAR 5.45 billion (2020)|
|Profit||ZAR −2.09 billion (2020)|
Comair Limited is an airline based in South Africa that operates scheduled services on domestic routes as a British Airways franchisee (and an affiliate member of the Oneworld airline alliance). It also operates as a low-cost carrier under its own kulula.com brand. Its main base is OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, and has focus cities at Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport. Its headquarters are near OR Tambo in the Bonaero Park area of Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
The company entered into voluntary business rescue proceedings on 5 May 2020, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but is still operating.
The idea for the airline came out of discussion of two second world war pilots based in Egypt, J.M.S. Martin and A.L. Zoubert, they gained another partner Leon Zimmerman and Commercial Air Services was formed in 1943 on their return to South Africa. The company began charter operations on 15 June 1946 using Fairchild F-24 Argus aircraft. Scheduled services between Rand Airport, Johannesburg and Durban began on 1 July 1948, using a Cessna 195.
In 1978, Donald (Dave) Novick negotiated a management buyout of Comair's aviation assets. A lengthy legal battle ensued between Novick and the Pickard Group. On 5 June 1978, Justice George Colman rendered a 291-page document in favour of Novick. In doing so, Colman established 12 precedents in South African corporate law; the litigation is now considered to be a landmark case.
When Novick joined Comair in 1961, the company had some 50 employees and operated two Douglas DC-3 aircraft. Under his direction, the company expanded its fleet into jet aircraft after the de-regulation of South African airline routes in 1991, and today[when?]} Comair operates 24 Boeing 737 aircraft with almost 2000 staff.
Novick pioneered a strong relationship with British Airways plc and a partnership through a franchise arrangement. British Airways later took a shareholding in Comair..
In 2001 kulula.com was established, by co-founders Gidon Novick and Erik Venter, as the first low-cost airline in South Africa. The airline has maintained its lead in this segment of the market, serving leisure business customers. As part of a R3.5-billion investment in fleet upgrade, Comair ordered eight Boeing 737-800s to update its fleet in 2013.
In March 2014, Comair announced a R9bn order for eight Boeing 737 MAX 8s. The aircraft are due to be delivered from 2019 to 2022.
The government of the British Overseas Territories Saint Helena and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) announced in March 2015 that it had reached agreement with Comair for the provision of weekly air services from Johannesburg, to commence in 2016, when the Atlantic island's airport opens for revenue service.
In August 2016, Imperial Air Cargo, a cargo airline in which Comair owns 30 percent, started operations.
Comair Limited was a public company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE: COM), but after going into business rescue on 5 May 2020, the company was delisted from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 7 April 2021; this gave it access to ZAR100 million rand (USD6.8 million) under the COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme put in place between the South African Reserve Bank and large commercial banks. 
The group has a number of subsidiary activities, including Comair Catering Proprietary Limited, trading under the Food Directions brand, that provides on-board catering and retail services to the group’s flights, and health and other food products to South African retailers, and also has a 56% shareholding in The Highly Nutritious Food Company Proprietary Limited, trading as Eatrite, that distributes its products to retailers in South Africa.
The published key trends for the Comair group (which includes activities under the British Airways and kulula.com brands) are shown below, as at years ending 30 June.
Comair entered into voluntary business rescue proceedings on 5 May 2020, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and no annual accounts for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2020 have therefore been published. The figures for 2020 shown below are from the Management Accounts set out in the Business Rescue Plan:
|Turnover (R m)||3,049||3,010||3,588||4,163||5,387||5,903||5,891||5,960||6,064||6,537||7,126||5,448|
|Profits before tax (EBT) (R m)||114||124||106||11||331||374||301||295||435||471||1,103||−2,091|
|Profits after tax (R m)||219||193||297||326||897||−1,647|
|Number of employees||1,782||1,941||1,953||1,853||1,912||2,026||2,088||2,100||2,121||2,206||2,193|
|Number of passengers (m)||5.2||5.1||5.4||5.5||5.8||6.0|
|Passenger load factor (%)||76||76||79|
|Number of aircraft (at year end)||23||25||24||24||27||26||25||25||26||26||25|
The Group’s headquarters are based at 1 Marignane Drive, Bonaero Park, Kempton Park.
Comair offer flights to and from the following destinations, operating under the British Airways brand:
Comair offers flights to and from the following destinations, operating under the kulula.com brand:
As of December 2021[update], Comair fleet includes the following aircraft operated as British Airways franchise: