A plane flies overhead. As if on automatic pilot, Gidon Novick glances out of his second floor office window. In reality, he doesn't really notice the plane. His thoughts are elsewhere. He is planning: considering possibilities, ideas that could work for either kulula.com or British Airways Comair. “We are always trying to improve our service and stay true to our brands,” he says.
Novick is a visionary, an ideas man. He and Eric Venter are joint Chief Executive Officers of Comair. Comair is the umbrella company for the premium market airline, British Airways Comair and the low-cost airline, kulula.com. While they have two polar opposite brands in their stable, they have so far managed to stay true to both of them. “The average passenger is not even aware that kulula is related to British Airways, never mind run by the same people,” says Jackie Walters, professor of transport and logistics management, University of Johannesburg.
Venter and Novick don't see running the two airlines in one business as a problem. Instead, this is viewed as an asset that brings certain challenges. To date, it has been a winning formula in dealing with a fluctuating aviation market.
Comair has two successful airlines under its belt and the company's only serious competition is the parastatal and national carrier, South African Airways (SAA).