Comair (South Africa) (MN, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) does not anticipate resuming B737-8 operations as part of its restructuring plan, Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) Shaun Collyer and Richard Ferguson have said.

Unveiling their plan for the privately-owned South African carrier which operates a British Airways franchise as well as the Kulula Air low-cost brand, the BRPs said they anticipate rationalising the current fleet to just thirteen B737-800s and three spare B737-400s. Prior to its COVID-19-induced grounding in March, Comair operated twenty-three B737-800s and five -400s. Its sole B737-8 has been parked since the global grounding of the type last year.

"The business rescue practitioners have consulted extensively, both in South Africa and abroad, and it was considered that a downsized fleet would be more in keeping with what the Company could afford to operate and demand for air travel post the Covid-19 crisis," they said.

Prior to its entry into business rescue, Comair said it was in talks with Boeing (BOE, Chicago O'Hare) over the cancellation of an unspecified number of outstanding B737 MAX 8 orders. The firm has a further eight due for delivery of which one - ZS-ZCB (msn 60434) - was to have been handed over last year.

Although rivals FlySafair, Airlink (South Africa), and South African Airways expect to resume flights later this month, Comair has taken a more conservative approach and only foresees a return to the skies by November 1 of this year.

To assist in its restructuring, the BRPs said they are in discussions with over 30 prospective funders to recapitalise the airline. So far, progress has been made with six, the BRPs said adding that talks are also ongoing with parties interested in acquiring certain operating assets as going concerns.

Proceeds from the sale will go, in part, to paying Comair creditors who will also derive returns from any equity capital raised and/ or issuance of shares. The target date for this is October 31, 2020.

Overall, the BRPs intend to have “substantially” implemented the turnaround plan by March 2021, at which point Comair will be handed back to the board of directors and management.