Comair spends $646m on new Boeings

7 February 2011

South African aviation group Comair has ordered eight next-generation Boeing 737-800s, worth approximately US$646-million (about R4.67-billion) at list prices, in order to update the fleet of its low-fare airline, kulula.com.

The new aircraft will all feature the new Boeing Sky interior, which includes new stowage bins, new sidewalls, a new LED lighting system, new ceiling panels, and new air vents. Other new features that passengers will feel are a quieter cabin, intuitive placement of switches and call buttons for alerting flight attendants.

“The purchase of new Boeing 737-800s is historic for our company and gives all our 1 800 staff a great feeling of pride,” Comair joint CEO Gidon Novick said in a statement this week.

“The new fleet is an essential part of our efficiency drive, which will not only give us a cost leadership position in our industry, but also provide our customers with exceptional levels of reliability and comfort with the spacious new interior.”

The new aircraft are more fuel-efficient, technologically advanced, require lower maintenance and are more eco-friendly as they give off fewer carbon emissions.

The credit guarantee for the transaction, which will cover all eight aircraft, was secured via the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States federal government, and provides credit guarantees for financing and insuring foreign purchases of United States goods.

Maintenance Performance Toolbox

In addition to its 737-800 order, Comair is purchasing the Maintenance Performance Toolbox, which improves an airline’s fleet efficiency by integrating manufacturer and customer documentation, use of intelligent graphics, cross-document searching and linking aircraft fault data to specific maintenance actions.

It also provides a comprehensive structural repair history for each airplane while reducing the time needed to find tail-specific technical information in time-critical situations, such as line maintenance troubleshooting and dispatch.

“Comair is an amazing success story, as this airline company has posted operating profits each year since it was founded in 1946,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes sales and marketing vice president Marlin Dailey. “Today’s order demonstrates the value the 737-800 has already brought to its fleet and the confidence Comair has in this airplane.”

Company ‘has come full circle’

Launched in 2001 as South Africa’s first low-fare carrier, kulula.com currently operates an all-Boeing fleet of ten 737s, including three leased 737-800s. Comair also operates as a franchise partner of British Airways, with thirteen 737 airplanes flying domestically in South Africa and regionally in Southern Africa.

“We’ve reached a new and exciting stage in the life of Comair, and we are pleased to welcome the new additions to our fleet, which sees us keeping abreast of technological advances while ensuring the ongoing comfort and safety of our customers,” said Novick.

“Our company has really come full circle from when we started operations with turbo aircraft, then moving to MD82s and onto 737-200s.”

SAinfo reporter

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