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The South African airline industry is facing a skills crisis and is unsustainable, says Comair CEO Erik Venter. "If you took away government subsidies, a large proportion of the industry would fall over," he says. By contrast, the global airline industry is expected to grow for a fourth consecutive year this year. This week, Comair announced an unbroken 72-year profit record in an environment of negligible economic growth, an oversupply of seats in a stagnant domestic aviation market that hasn't grown in revenue for eight years, soaring fuel prices, a plunging rand and concerted efforts by government-funded SAA to put it out of business. "For many years, the irrational commercial behaviour of SAA was our biggest challenge. That really gave us a hard time for a very long time. At the moment, it's a little better, but who knows what comes next?" If SAA gets the latest R21.7bn bailout it has asked for, it will "give them free rein again for another three years", he says. He believes th...

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