Comair (South Africa)

Comair (South Africa)
Founded 1943 (as Commercial Air Services)
Hubs OR Tambo International Airport
Focus cities Cape Town International Airport
King Shaka International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Executive Club
Airport lounge Terraces Lounge
Alliance Oneworld (Affiliate member)
Fleet size 15 + 4 Order
Destinations 14
Parent company British Airways
International Airlines Group
Headquarters Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa

Comair is an airline based in South Africa. It operates scheduled services on domestic trunk routes as a British Airways franchisee and an affiliate member of the Oneworld airline alliance. Its main base is OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, with hubs at Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport, Durban.[1] Its headquarters are near OR Tambo in the Bonaero Park area of Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.[2]



Comair Douglas DC-3 in 1973 at Skukuza.

The airline was founded by World War II South African Air Force (SAAF) colleagues AC Joubert, JMS Martin, L Zimmerman and JDW Human and incorporated on 17 December 1943 as Commercial Air Services. The company began charter operations on 15 June 1946 using Fairchild F-24/UC-61K Argus Mk III aircraft.[3] Scheduled services between Rand Airport, Johannesburg and Durban began on 1 July 1948, using a Cessna Model 195.[4]

The airline grew over the next decades, to the point where it was able to start service on major domestic routes in 1992, using Boeing 737-200 aircraft. In addition to domestic flights to destinations such as Cape Town and Durban, it also offered a few international flights in Southern Africa, e.g. to Gaborone and Harare.

A franchise agreement with British Airways was signed in 1996 and in early 2000 British Airways acquired a minority holding. It was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in July 1998. The airline is owned by the management (25%), institutions and public (52%), International Airlines Group/British Airways (18%) and employees (5%) and has 1,447 employees (at March 2007).[1]

In 2001, was set up. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Comair and was set up as a low-cost airline.

On 6 September 2007, Comair extended its franchise agreement with British Airways for a further 11 years.[5]


Future Growth Strategy

The new services to Gaborone and Maputo mark the first phase of Comair's planned expansion into further destinations in Africa. For some time now Comair have been exploring the possibility of setting up a regional hub at Lanseria Airport. They are also looking into the opening other regional hubs in Southern Africa.[9]


The Comair fleet includes the following aircraft in BA livery (as of 05 November 2011):[10]

Comair/British Airways Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Passengers[11] Notes
C Y Total
ATR 42-500 1 0 0 48 48 ZS-XCC
Leased from Solenta Aviation
ATR 72-212 1 3 0 66 66 ZS-XCB
Leased from Solenta Aviation
Boeing 737-300 8 0 17 100 117
Boeing 737-400 4 0 18 126 144
Boeing 767-200ER 0 1 TBA ZS-SOF
Leased from Aeronexus
Will operate London/Durban[12]
Total 14 4

Comair's Partnership with Solenta Aviation

On 3 March 2011 Comair announced that they are to lease a 66 seater ATR 72-212 from Solenta Aviation. The aircraft has since been received and put in service with the registration ZS-XCB.[13] It will be used to operate two new routes which will be launched on 3 May 2011. The new routes are:[14]

Lanseria International Airport to Gaborone - Will operate a daily service and will increase to 10 x Weekly 2Q 2011
Lanseria International Airport to Maputo - Will operate 8 x Weekly.

The launch of the routes was later delayed to September 2011.

In October 2011 a ATR42-500 (ZS-XCC) joined the ATR72 already operated by Solenta on behalf of Comair. Later that month flights to Gaborone were dropped after only 2 months of operation

From 01 December 2011 Solenta Aviation will begin operating flights to George Airport from Lanseria International Airport on behalf of Comair. Flight will operate under the BA brand daily on a Solenta Aviation ATR72. At the same time flights from Lanseria International Airport to Maputo will increase from 8 to 10 x weekly and will operate with a improved schedule.[15]

The flights will operate using the British Airways brand and the ATR will be in British Airways Livery. The new routes will be the first operated under the British Airways brand from Lanseria International Airport. Comair believe their new partnership with Solenta Aviation will continue to grow to include additional aircraft and more routes from both Lanseria and other potential hubs within southern Africa in the future.

Boeing 737-200 Retirement

On 31 January 2011 Comair announced that they have bid farewell to the last of their Boeing 737-200 aircraft. The Boeing 737-200 aircraft operated their last flights for Comair in December 2010.

The first 737-200 aircraft entered service for Comair back in 1995. At one point Comair's fleet consisted of 12 Boeing 737-200.[16]

Incidents and accidents

  • On 12 October 1982, Douglas C-47A ZS-EJK was written off when it crashed into a mountain near Graskop,[17] 36 nautical miles (67 km) from Hoedspruit when attempting to divert to that airport whilst flying under IMC rules. All 30 people on board survived.[18]
  • On 1 March 1988, Comair Flight 206, an Embraer 110 Bandeirante, crashed in Johannesburg, killing all 17 occupants.[19][20]


  1. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International: p. 67. 2007-04-03. 
  2. ^ "Contact Us." Comair. Retrieved on 30 September 2009. "Comair Limited Physical address: Cnr Atlas Road and Marignane Drive Bonaero Park 1619 South Africa"
  3. ^ Van Dyke, Capt Donald L (2008). Fortune Favours the Bold: An African Aviation Odyssey. Xlibris. pp. 52, 70. ISBN 9781436393140. 
  4. ^ Van Dyke, Capt Donald L (2008). Fortune Favours the Bold: An African Aviation Odyssey. Xlibris. pp. 102. ISBN 9781436393140. 
  5. ^ "business news Comair to stay with British Airways". Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  6. ^ British Airways/Comair to start flights from Lanseria to Gaborone and Maputo
  7. ^
  8. ^ British Airways/Comair to temporarily suspend Dar es Salaam
  9. ^ Comair Explores Regional Expansion
  10. ^ Comair fleet
  11. ^ Comair Aircraft configurations
  12. ^ Comair Lease 767
  13. ^ - Photo of ATR72 in BA livery, reg. ZS-XCB
  14. ^ Comair lease ATR72 from Solenta Aviation
  15. ^ Comair drop Gaborone in favour of George
  16. ^ Comair Bid Farewell to their 737-200 Fleet
  17. ^ "C/N 19484". The Dakota Association of South Africa. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "ZS-EJK Accident report". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  19. ^ "Accident Synopsis » 03011988,"
  20. ^ Comair Flight 206 accident

Further reading

External links

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