Air Services Licensing Council (ASLC) questions Comair’s ownership compliance

The current dispute between Comair and the Air Services Licensing Council (ASLC) originated as a complaint lodged by Flysafair with the ASLC questioning Comair’s level of foreign ownership.

The Air Services Licensing Act stipulates that no more than 25% of the voting rights in a domestic airline may be held by foreigners, and Comair is confident that it complies with this limit.

“It is important to note that whilst FlySafair has subsequently stated that it has no interest pursuing its complaint, the ASLC is still not satisfied that Comair is compliant with the Air Services Licensing Act, which is something we certainly do not agree with” says Comair CEO, Erik Venter.

“Although the ASLC has stated that a consequence of non-compliance may be the suspension of our air services license, it has to date not clearly articulated any intention to commence the suspension / cancelation proceedings as stipulated in the Act”.

Following numerous failed requests to the ASLC to provide Comair with an undertaking that it will not take any further action against Comair, pending the outcome of a legal review, Comair has been left with no other alternative but to seek relief through an urgent application to interdict the ASLC from potentially suspending Comair’s domestic license, pending the outcome of a review by a court of law.

“The Company wishes to stress that the disagreement with the ASLC does not relate to the safety of the Company’s operations. The disagreement with the ASLC relates exclusively to a shareholder regulatory issue”, the company said in a statement.

“We trust that the Council will co-operate with Comair and that we will not have to rely on the interdict application.We emphasise that Comair does not wish to be confrontational and respects the decisions taken by the Council but it is left with no alternative but to take steps to protect our interest, customers, and shareholders.” Venter concludes.

At a meeting held by the Air Services Licensing Council (ASLC) at the Department of Transport in Pretoria, the ASLC indicated to Comair that they could not provide clarity on their intentions and were undecided on whether or not to suspend Comair’s Domestic Air Services License.

As a result of this uncertainty, Comair obtained an interdict against the ASLC from potentially revoking its license at any time prior to the scheduled interdict hearing set down for Tuesday 17 May. Thereafter Comair will have the opportunity to take the decision of the ASLC regarding Comair’s shareholding on review.

Erik Venter, Comair’s CEO says “We have resorted to these extra-ordinary and urgent measures to ensure we are able to secure operational certainty for the many thousands of travellers being held to ransom over the potential disruption to their important travel plans. We are pleased that this result will place the burden of decision into a court of law where Comair will be afforded a fair opportunity to make representation as to why we are confident in our compliance with the Act.”

“We would like to once again to express our deepest gratitude to our customers for their unwavering support and all the goodwill and wishes they have sent us as we navigate through this frustrating and challenging issue.” says Venter.

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