Comair Limited is a South African airline that was established in June 1946, when the company began charter operations. Today, Comair Limited is a British Airways franchisee with its main base at OR Tambo International Airport. Kulula.com, a popular airline that operates inside South Africa, is Comair Limited’s low-cost carrier brand.
Due to the challenging business environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Comair Limited was voluntarily placed into Business Rescue in May 2020 to safeguard the company and its various stakeholders.
As a result, Comair’s IT team was downscaled and moved into more of a maintenance role. When Comair’s operations resumed in December 2020, the IT team needed to scale back up quickly, but couldn’t. Their focus had been more on keeping the lights on during the difficult months than ensuring best practices were in place.
Ryan Porter, Comair’s Head of IT Operations, says “In the process of switching our systems back on again in December, we discovered that our IT systems were in a bit of a mess. For starters, our mail hygiene was not up to scratch at all. Staff email inboxes were clogged with spam, malware, and phishing attempts. Thanks to the fact that we simply had to down-scale our IT department due to COVID, we did not immediately have the resources on hand to solve the problem.
“And because we had to reduce our overall headcount due to the restructuring of the business, we knew we needed to look into our software licensing situation. To address these challenges quickly, we turned to the managed services sector,” says Porter.
Velocity Group, a supplier of Hybrid IT services to the local corporate sector, was selected as a strategic partner to help Comair with its IT systems. Velocity Group was to evaluate the current licensing situation, secure Comair’s email systems, and assist with the company’s daily IT functions.
Jonathan Kropf, Velocity Group’s MD, says “When we stepped in to assist Comair, there was a lot that needed to be done. We were only too happy to leverage our expertise with Microsoft solutions to take the IT burden off Comair’s shoulders, and within weeks we got their email, security, and software license issues resolved.”
With their expertise in all aspects of Microsoft Office 365, including administration, Velocity Group was able to match Comair staff members with the appropriate O365 plan. In many instances, workers only needed to be on Plan 1 or 2 while Comair was paying for plans up to E4. Some could even get by on an Exchange Online plan, which is O365’s entry-level option.
“By moving workers onto more cost-effective O365 plans and eliminating some licenses that weren’t in use at all,” says Kropf, “Velocity Group was able to ensure that Comair’s licensing was right for the size of their workforce and appropriately-matched to staff roles.”
A saving of more than 15% on their 365 spend bought Comair more budgetary runway to address their email hygiene challenges as well.
“Thanks to Jonathan and his team sorting out our licensing issues, we were able to spend the money we saved there to secure our email servers with Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection,” adds Porter. “I am pleased to say that we went from experiencing six or seven serious email security incidents every month to just one or two.
“And because that security functionality is built right into O365,” adds Kropf, “it was much easier to turn on and use than a third-party solution would have been.”
In Partnerships We Trust
“Having Velocity Group as our IT partner has really helped us take to the skies again,” says Porter. “They not only listened to what we needed, but their proposed solution paid for itself and was implemented within weeks of coming on board. They clearly have our best interests at heart, and we value our partnership with them highly because of the trust they’ve built with us in such a short time.”
“It’s been a pleasure helping one of South Africa’s most iconic aviation brands to get back to doing what they do best again,” says Kropf. “The pandemic has affected a lot of businesses badly, but with the right partnerships in place we know that it’s possible to weather the storm and rise up once again. I am pleased that Velocity Group has played a small part in Comair’s return to the skies, and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship together.”