Neels Blom Writer at large

While state-owned carrier SAA is hoping for a R21.4bn bailout from taxpayers, Comair, which operates the BA brand in SA, has delivered an unbroken 72-year profit record. SA’s only JSE-listed airline, which also runs kulula.com, defied a weak economy, rising fuel prices and an oversupply of seats in the SA market by keeping a lid on its costs and introducing newer and more efficient planes. State-owned SAA, on the other hand, has not been able to renew its fleet, meaning it has not been able to close the gap between costs and revenues per unit. This gap grows exponentially with each year as aircraft age. New aircraft burn 14% less fuel by volume, while carrying more passengers. Comair’s performance is in stark contrast to some of the state-owned enterprises that are operating in the same field, which are desperate for cash injections from the government, posing a danger to the country’s sovereign credit rating. SA Express has asked for R1.74bn. Adverse domestic conditions were reflec...

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