On Sunday, South Africa’s civil aviation regulator grounded Comair’s planes indefinitely, citing the airline’s failure to adequately address safety concerns.
Passengers on low-cost airline Kulula and British Airways are affected by the sanction.
According to a SACAA spokesperson, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has indefinitely extended a 24-hour precautionary suspension of Comair’s operator certificate.
The suspension was supposed to end on Sunday, but Comair has not adequately addressed all necessary safety issues, according to the SACAA.
“We informed them (Comair) this morning that their air operator certificate has been suspended indefinitely until they close all of the findings,” SACAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu told Reuters.
The order effectively grounded the company’s Boeing (BA.N) fleet.
Comair said it couldn’t say when it would resume flights after working all night to provide documentation to SACAA following a review of certain policies, systems, and procedures.
“This is a big blow to our customers, employees, and the flying public because it effectively removes 40% of the market capacity,” Comair CEO Glenn Orsmond said in a statement.
“The impacts for the aviation sector and the country are significant if the suspension continues for an extended period of time,” he added.
The regulator said in a precautionary notice issued on Saturday that Comair had experienced safety issues ranging from “engine failures, engine malfunction, and landing gear malfunctions,” among other things, in the previous month.
SACAA stated that during its investigations, it discovered three so-called “level 1” findings that “pose an immediate risk” and must be addressed immediately.
Gwebu did not provide details on what exceptional safety issues Comair, which operates local and regional routes from South Africa in the British Airways (BA) livery as part of a licence agreement, needed to address before flying again. Comair, in addition to flying BA planes, also operates the Kulula brand.
According to a notice on Kulula’s website, Comair hoped to resume its schedule by 12 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Sunday, subject to SACAA approval.
“We would do everything possible to accommodate customers affected by the suspension on other flights, prioritizing vulnerable customers and those who needed to travel the most speedily,” Comair said, adding that customers would also be kept informed via text.