February 13, 2020 / 11:08 AM / in 11 days

South African airline Comair expects first half loss due to MAX grounding

Feb 13 (Reuters) - South African airline Comair said on Thursday it expects a half-yearly loss, hit by the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX planes, while compensation talks with the U.S. planemaker are underway.

Comair said it expects headline earnings per share (HEPS) to fall more than 170% for six months ended Dec. 31, which will result in a loss. It reported half-yearly HEPS of 27.2 cents a year earlier.

HEPS strips out certain one-off items and is the main profit measure in South Africa.

"No accrual for compensation from Boeing has been raised to date, however, negotiations are underway," said Comair, which operates flights in southern Africa under a licence from British Airways.

Comair, which settled a dispute with South African Airways (SAA) last year, also said that SAA was in breach of an agreement after failing to make payment in December and now owes an amount of 790 million rand ($52.99 million).

Last February, South Africa's competition body ordered SAA to pay Comair 1.1 billion rand in a dispute that dates back more than a decade involving SAA's travel agent incentive schemes.

$1 = 14.8928 rand Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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