Today Comair was granted permission in the Johannesburg High Court that its airline company be placed under provisional liquidation, ending the flights of its kulula.com and local British Airways flights.
Comair did not have access to capital to fund its operation, being commercially insolvent. On 31 May the aircraft of the two airlines were grounded with immediate effect.
The two airline brands represented 40 % of the domestic airline market.
Kulula.com was the first local low cost airline, established in 2001, and became the darling of the flying public for its hilarious announcements and affordability.
The airline’s operations were suspended in March 2020, just after Lockdown commenced, and resumed operations in September 2021.
Skilled writer Gus Silver wrote a wonderful eulogy to the now defunct Kulula airline:
‘The news that kulula.com has finally gone off to that great aircraft hangar in the sky, following the liquidation of its parent company, Comair, brings to a sad close one of the great marketing success stories of South African aviation.
The airline launched in 2001, minting its name from the isiZulu word for “light” or “easy” — lula — and adding the .com as a reminder that you could book your tickets online, still something of a novelty in those early days of e-commerce.
With its breezy green-and-white livery, its casually friendly cabin crew, and its quirky radio commercials, kulula.com was a breath of fresh air in a sector dominated by the staid and old-fashioned SAA.
But the bright idea that really took off on kulula, was turning the cabin announcements into a form of standup kulula.comedy.
The airline was one of the few South African brands, alongside Nando’s, to really “get” what makes South Africans laugh, and those pre-recorded safety briefings managed to get their serious message across through some seriously funny routines.
Eventually the novelty wore thin, the temper of the times changed, and maybe one or two easily-offended passengers filed an official complaint while putting their seats in the uptight position.
But while it lasted, that era of light and easy flying made many choose kulula over all the other options. Here are some of my favourite kulula cabin announcements from over the years.
Farewell kulula, you made flying fun. And now and again, you even took off on time!
“Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight.”
“Please note that there are 8 emergency exits on the aircraft. The crew will do the Macarena and point them out to you now. There are 2 at the front, 4 over the wings, and 2 at the back. Please take a moment to locate the nearest exit to you, bearing in mind that it might be behind or on top of you at the time.”
“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.”
“In the unlikely event of a water landing, we’re going to ask those passengers who can swim to assemble on the left side of the aircraft. For those who can’t swim, thank you for flying kulula.com”
“Your seat cushions can be used for flotation. In the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.”
“In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, free oxygen will be provided. Masks will drop from the right and left service panel above you. Scream softly, and pull the mask down with a sharp downward jerk to activate the flow of oxygen. Cover your nose and mouth and breath normally, or just simply dial 911.”
“We have now reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort, and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.”
“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.”
“To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt. If you don’t know how to operate one by now, you probably shouldn’t be allowed out in public unsupervised.”
“The weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but don’t worry, we’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive.”
“Please remain seated with your seatbelts fastened and your cellphones switched off until the aircraft has come to a complete stop and the seatbelt signs have been switched off. If you need any assistance disembarking, sorry for you, help yourself. Only kidding folks, we’ll ask one of the greasy engineers to come and assist you.”
“Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you’re going to leave anything behind, it will be shared by the cabin crew, so please make sure it’s something we’d like to have.”
“We’d like to thank you for flying with us today. And the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of kulula.”
Local airlines operating in South Africa on domestic routes include LIFT, FlySafair, Airlink, SAA, mango, and South African Express.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide