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Staring at a loan to cover extra travel costs: Kulula customers left in cold as Comair grounds flights

One of the frustrated customers affected by Comair grounding its local British Airways and Kulula.com flights doesn’t know how he will remedy the inconvenience.

Lucky Jayden, 31, booked Kulula tickets for four family members who are visiting him in Cape Town from Mpumalanga for a ceremony.

He found out late on Tuesday night through a text message that his family, scheduled to travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg on Wednesday morning, cannot travel.

This is after Comair-operated British Airways and Kulula.com flights were voluntarily grounded due to a finance crunch, inconveniencing scores of customers throughout the country.

“It was 11.45pm on Tuesday when I got the SMS from Kulula to say their flights have been suspended. They said your flight has unfortunately been cancelled. See updates on social media. Nothing about refunds, nothing about alternative travelling arrangements,” said an irate Jayden.

He said he spent R3,932 on the tickets and if he had been aware of the risk of a possible suspension, he would have used the money to purchase bus tickets.

“I literally do not have any cash left because they were due to be here for a ceremony. For a ceremony you spend. My budget is affected. I will probably have to take out a loan and I don’t know if I will get a refund,” he said.

Simon Brown from Johannesburg was supposed to travel from Johannesburg to Durban from June 15 to 19 for a holiday with his wife.

He said he purchased Kulula tickets about two weeks ago, spending about R4,000.

“I am going to book on a different airline or drive. But with the high petrol price, driving is not cheap.”

He checked the airline’s website for customer advice, and learnt “I can claim for a voucher or put in a request for a refund”. However, he said: “Do they have the money to refund me," given their funding problems?

“I also see some tickets on the same route are more expensive than what I paid on Kulula,” he added.

Comair went into business rescue two years ago. In Tuesday’s statement, the airline said it was in the process of securing financing to keep its planes in the air.

“The company’s business rescue practitioners have advised the process to raise the necessary capital is in progress and there is reason to believe such funding may be secured. Once received, the airline will be able to recommence operations, but regrettably under these circumstances the practitioners have no choice but to voluntarily suspend all scheduled flights until the funding is confirmed,” Comair said.



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