New South African airline Lift officially launches


The new airline launched on 10 December with its first flights departing from Johannesburg and Cape Town.

On 10 December, South Africa’s brand new airline, Lift, officially launched, with its first flights departing from Johannesburg and Cape Town. The newly-branded aircraft were unveiled at OR Tambo and Cape Town International airports this week.

The new airline was part-founded by former Uber Africa executive Jonathan Ayache and Gidon Novick, who ran low-cost flyer Kulula.

“Many think it’s crazy starting an airline in these times,” says Gidon. “We think it’s the best time ever.”

He explains that the outdated, supply-driven, high-debt airline model needs to change. “Among many other things, Covid-19 has proven that it’s simply not a sustainable approach. Instead, it’s time for a demand-driven business model. One that’s super-efficient, leverages off record low input costs and is both agile and flexible.”

Gidon says that the industry has become overly rule-bound and rigid and customers need to be placed back at the centre of all decisions. “It’s been a tough time in the country and across the world and we all need a little relief. The service industry is just the place to start.”

Lift has implemented full flexibility in its customer service mandate, where tickets can be cancelled or changed at no extra charge up to 24 hours before the flight. All of Lift’s seats will be economy, and the airline will operate between commercial hub Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Over 30,000 seats have been sold since ticket sales opened in November. It also has a Vida e Caffe onboard, and afternoon flights will feature local wines or gins and innovative locally produced snacks.

The new airline, which is operated by Global Aviation Operations, will make use of a fleet of fourth generation Airbus A320 aircraft.

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