South Africa: Erik Venter Leaves Comair On a High and Profitable Note

analysis

Despite dismal trading conditions in SA's airline industry, Comair has enjoyed an unbroken record of profit since its inception 73 years ago. The JSE-listed company, which operates low-cost brand kulula.com and British Airways under licence, has also consistently rewarded shareholders with dividends. The shocking resignation of its long-time CEO has left analysts wondering who can fill his big shoes.

In South Africa's notoriously tough aviation industry, it's quite rare to find a long-serving CEO who is able to take an airline to greater and more profitable heights.

Consider South African Airways (SAA). The state-owned airline has had seven CEOs (including those appointed on an acting basis) over the past 13 years.

Even with a revolving door of CEOs -- some of whom had business and aviation experience, but made poor judgments -- SAA is bankrupt and has relied on more than R40-billion in taxpayer funds since 1999 to remain airborne.

There is still doubt whether the herculean turnaround strategy implemented by business-savvy SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana will work because the strategy itself requires an additional R22-billion over the next three years. That's money that the airline doesn't have.

Comair, the JSE-listed aviation company that operates low-cost brand kulula.com and British...

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