A consortium led by South African regional carrier British Airways Comair has won the race for state-owned Sun Air.

Comair, a BA franchise partner, will take a 25%stake in the rival domestic carrier, with another 5%earmarked for Sun Air staff, and the remaining 70%taken by two investment vehicles designed to encourage economic participation from South Africa's black majority. The consortium will pay R50 million ($11 million) and take on a debt of R47 million.

Comair managing director Piet van Hoven says that the investment is "strategic", and that Sun Air will continue to run under its own management. He adds that the two airlines "expect" to remain competitors on routes between Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Comair also says that the acquisition will not form part of the BA franchise agreement signed in 1996. A year ago, Sun Air entered a codeshare agreement with Virgin Atlantic Airways, although this is expected to lapse.

Source: Flight International