Comair wins anti-competition case against SAA
February 17, 2017: A South Gauteng High Court has ruled in favour of Comair (South Africa) against state-owned South African Airways (SAA) in a long-running anti-competition case. The court awarded ZAR1.1 billion (USD84.8 million) to Comair (South Africa) in damages plus interest.
The case dates back to 2003 and targetted SAA's travel agent incentive schemes wherein between 1999 and 2005, the carrier paid commissions to agents thus diverting passengers away from rival airlines. South Africa's Competition Tribunal had already ruled the actions as having violated the terms of the country's Competition Act.
Comair said in a disclosure to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on February 15 that the full award constituted ZAR554 million (USD42.7 million) plus interest at 15.5 per cent thereon plus costs, amounting to approximately ZAR1.16 billion (USD89.5 million) in total.
Defunct carrier Nationwide Airlines was awarded ZAR104.6 million (USD8.07 million) in damages plus interest in August last year for similar claims against SAA spanning the period June 2001 to March 2005.
Commenting on the matter, SAA said it had taken note of the judgement with its counsel to study and advise on how to proceed accordingly.
"It is important to note that this is one of the legacy matters, dating back to the period between 1999 and 2005 and implemented by the then management team. All of those managers left the company a while back and new business management processes were since introduced to ensure compliance with all relevant prescripts," SAA said in a statement. It added that it would "not debate any merits of the case in the media."
The ruling is subject to appeal by either party.