Discovery Bank said it will immediately refund Vitality clients affected by the shutdown of the local airline, Comair.
The group announced Thursday (9 June), that it has failed to secure the necessary funding to pull it out of financial straits, and its business rescue practitioners (BRPs) say there is no likelihood of rescue.
Comair, which operates Kulula.com and is the domestic partner for British Airways in South Africa, cancelled all flights on 1 June, less than three months after being grounded by the regulator over a series of safety incidents that required diversions and emergency landings.
The group went into business rescue in May 2020 after Covid-19 pandemic era lockdowns, travel bans, as well as rising fuel prices, wreaked havoc on the travel industry. The airline resumed flights in December 2020 while still in business rescue.
It was then suspended from 1 June pending securing funding to resume operations.
“We are saddened by the news released earlier today advising that Comair, one of our longest standing Vitality partners, has stopped operations.
“To assist our clients, for any Vitality member who is a Discovery Bank client and booked a discounted flight departing from 1 June 2022 onwards that has been cancelled due to this issue, Discovery Bank will automatically refund the amount spent on that flight into the Vitality member’s Discovery Bank account by close of business on Friday, 10 June 2022. This refund process is automatic, so no action is required from members,” the financial services company said in a note to customers.
Discovery pointed out that international flight, car hire and accommodation bookings made on the kulula.com website remain unaffected.
To make alternative travel arrangements and new discounted travel bookings with any of our travel partners; including local flights with FlySafair, Airlink and Lift, international flights, accommodation and car hire; the group said that Discovery Bank clients can access the Vitality Travel platform through the Discovery Bank website on their desktop.
It said that while it is working on alternative solutions for Vitality members who are not Discovery Bank clients, affected Vitality members who booked a discounted flight can open a Discovery Bank account before 30 June 2022 in order to facilitate an immediate refund and make bookings on the Vitality Travel platform.
Discovery Vitality CEO Dinesh Govender said: “We apologise to all those affected and hope these efforts will help alleviate their situation. Comair has been one of Vitality’s longest standing partners, and we are saddened by the news. It is devastating for Comair’s passengers, staff and partners, as well as for the travel sector”.
“We understand how traumatic it can be when flight plans are disrupted, and we are doing our utmost to assist those affected. For any affected Vitality member who booked a discounted flight that has been cancelled, Discovery Bank will automatically refund them into their Discovery Bank account by close of business tomorrow.”