Co­mair wins R1.16bn case against SAA

The Star Late Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

LOW-COST air­line Co­mair could re­ceive a R1.16 bil­lion wind­fall af­ter the South Gaut­eng High Court yes­ter­day ruled in its favour in the an­ti­com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour case against ri­val South African Air­ways (SAA). Co­mair said it ap­proached the court about the anti-com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour 14 years ago. It said it would need time to study the judg­ment, and cau­tioned its share­hold­ers that the mat­ter was still sub­ject to ap­peal by both par­ties. “In terms of the judg­ment‚ Co­mair was awarded R554 mil­lion, plus in­ter­est at 15.5 per­cent thereon‚ which will be capped at the value of the award‚ plus costs‚ amount­ing to ap­prox­i­mately R1.16bn in to­tal‚” the com­pany said in a state­ment. Co­mair had ac­cused the na­tional car­rier of hav­ing in­tro­duced an anti-com­pet­i­tive travel agent scheme that was de­signed to keep travel agents loyal to SAA. It said the scheme ran from 2001 to about 2006. The judg­ment came a day af­ter Co­mair re­ported prof­its of R199m for the six months to the end of De­cem­ber and recorded cash in hand of R948m. SAA spokesper­son Tlali Tlali said the air­line’s lawyers were still study­ing the judg­ment. Mean­while, Co­mair chief ex­ec­u­tive Erik Ven­ter has said the air­line would sub­mit a pro­posal to Botswana to take over the na­tion’s car­rier. Co­mair, which op­er­ates Bri­tish Air­ways in South­ern Africa and ku­l­ula.com, has vied for Air Botswana be­fore, but in 2008 pulled out of a bid­ding round that failed to at­tract suc­cess­ful suit­ors. Botswana put its na­tional car­rier up for ten­der again on Mon­day as part of a strat­egy to pri­va­tise loss-mak­ing state com­pa­nies. “We’ll make a sub­mis­sion and see if they are in­ter­ested in our approach,” Ven­ter told Reuters. Botswana’s trans­port depart­ment has said it was open to pro­pos­als on var­i­ous forms of pri­vati­sa­tion, in­clud­ing joint ven­tures, own­er­ship, fran­chis­ing and con­ces­sions. – Ka­belo Khu­malo and Reuters

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