State-run South African Airways (SAA) will pay its rival Comair 1.1 billion rand ($78 million) to settle an anti-competition case, sending shares in the local aviation company soaring.
Struggling SAA has not made a profit since 2011 and was given a 5 billion rand bailout by government last year to shore up its balance sheet, Reuters revealed. It is one of a handful of state firms cited by credit ratings agencies as a major risk to the sovereign rating of Africa’s most industrialised economy. The dispute between Comair and SAA dates back more than a decade. SAA’s travel agent incentive schemes were deemed anti-competitive by a competition body, paving the way for a damages claim by Comair.
Comair said in a statement on Friday that SAA would start making payments to it from this month until July 2022, unless SAA decides to pay the full amount earlier. Comair operates flights in southern Africa under a licence from British Airways and launched low-cost airline kulula.com. SAA’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.