Kulula will join Safair in offering domestic flights during the festive period, but SAA is yet to decide when its flights will resume.
This follows both SAA and Comair – which owns Kulula – securing funding in their respective business rescue processes.
Comair has reopened bookings for Kulula flights ahead of 1 December – when Kulula will resume operations.
“We are excited to be returning to the skies and with competition being restored in the domestic market, the flying public can once again expect to achieve low airfares,” said Glenn Orsmond of the Comair Rescue Consortium.
“We are proud to continue our Kulula heritage of offering affordable airfares after introducing low cost flying in South Africa close to twenty years ago.”
Orsmond said that the re-introduction of Kulula flights domestically is the first phase of Comair’s plans to build up to full operations over the coming months.
He noted that British Airways domestic and regional flights will re-open soon – as will Kulula flights from Lanseria.
Comair will begin with a fleet of fifteen aircraft across Kulula and British Airways, and will gradually increase the number of aircraft in operation in the coming months.
“This is an important moment for Comair, for all the employees who have been so patient and supportive through the business rescue process, for our customers, the flying public and the country,” said Orsmond.
“A strong, competitive airline sector benefits everyone and we’re looking forward to welcoming our first customers on board and gradually restoring our schedule and network.”
Comair said that its planes will have the following measures in place to ensure that its cabins are safe from COVID-19:
- All aircraft are fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.
- All aircraft are disinfected afer every flight.
- Cleaning protocols have been intensified for aircraft, including high-frequency touchpoints, hard surfaces, galleys, and waste bins.
- All aircraft have universal precautionary kits and cleaning materials, as well as backup kits if staff need to deal with communicable diseases. The crew are trained in dealing with such diseases.
- Heightened protocols and awareness drills among all personnel have been implemented, and stringent measures are in place to heighten focus on personal hygiene.
No date for resumption of SAA flights
SAA told MyBroadband that it has not decided when its flights will be reinstated.
“The Minister of Finance recently announced in his medium-term budget that R10.5 billion has been allocated to the airline,” said SAA.
“Following the allocation, the next step is appropriation, which is a parliamentary process before money can flow into the airline’s account. It is this latter part that has yet to materialise and the announcements about the reinstatement of flights depend almost wholly on the availability funds into the airline’s account.”
SAA said it will make operational announcements on the reinstatement of flights when it is ready.
This will be when it has a “reasonably good degree of certainty about the commencement dates” of its flights.
“We appreciate the inconvenience the delay has caused to our customers and will not risk making any premature announcements before addressing factors that will enable our return to flying.”
Safair carries on
Safair has been operating in South Africa since the government first allowed domestic flights to resume.
It told MyBroadband that this has enabled it to be fully prepared for dealing with COVID-19 related concerns even as the festive season promises an increase in flyers.
“We’ve had strict precautions in place since we started up our operations again on 15 June this year and we’ve not faltered on them,” said Safair.
“A lot of requirements are actually enshrined now in legislation and regulation, but we have a few measures that we’ll continue to implement to go above and beyond requirements.”
Safair noted the following measures which should allay flyers’ concerns regarding COVID-19:
- Masks have to be worn throughout flights and hands must be sanitised at entry.
- Port Health Authority will continue their screening procedures and temperature checks before allowing folks into the airport, never mind onto an aircraft.
- Safair cleans its aircraft between flights using COVID-19 combatting cleaning solutions and then fogs its cabins using an aerosol-based treatment.
- Cabins are deep cleaned each evening using specialised electrostatic sprayers that deposit a COVID fighting compound onto even hard to reach places. This compound has a dwell time of over 24 hours.
- Safair has a no-touch policy which means customers scan their own boarding passes and display ID without actually handing these documents over.
- Social distancing is enforced at the airports and is carefully protected during boarding and disembarkation procedures.
Safair noted that customers often question why it ensures social distancing when boarding and disembarking given that folks sit next to one another on flights.
“There’s really one very important reason. Studies have shown that sitting next to people in a flight is safe in terms of coronavirus transmission as long as both parties are wearing masks and that the aircraft is equipped with HEPA filtration systems – which our entire fleet is,” said Safair.
“That said, it’s still important to limit close proximity to as few people as possible to reduce what small chance there is of infection even further, which is why we implement these practices.”