South African Startup Lift To Launch Flights On December 10th

On December 10th, the newest addition to the South African airspace will take to the skies. Newly launched and named airline Lift is taking off with two routes, flying from Johannesburg to Cape Town and George, just in time for the holiday season.

Airbus A320 Getty
While we have yet to be treated to Lift’s livery, we know that the carrier will operate three Airbus A320s. Photo: Getty Images

South Africa’s new low-cost startup Lift is going against the grain and launching operations in the midst of a global aviation downturn like never before. Granted, to begin, it will only serve two domestic routes, but it is a start. And perhaps, a source of excitement for South African aviation enthusiasts after long-term doubts about their legacy flag-carrier’s future.

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Two routes in time for the holiday season

Up and running for bookings from today, starting December 10th, Lift will fly between Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT), and Johannesburg and George (GRJ). Rates start at R855 (about $55), although it has already reached twice that sum over the coveted holidays.

Lift will operate a varying number of daily flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, with sometimes as many as four departures per day. The route barely missed a spot in the top ten for busiest and most revenue-generating domestic stretches last year.

With South African Airways having suspended all operations, and with international traffic bound to remain at an all-time low for the near future, now might be the best time to move in on it.

“The Johannesburg-Cape Town route is one of the busiest routes in the country and globally, and the Johannesburg-George route has become an attractive leisure route for travellers recently,” Lifts co-founder Gidon Novick recently told IOL Travel.

With SAA out of the game, now could be a good time to make a move on South Africa’s most lucrative domestic route. Photo: Getty Images

The carrier’s second route, leisure-focused Joburg to George in South Africa’s Western Cape province, only has one daily departure for now, with flight times at approximately 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Name competition winners fly for free

The new airline famously gained its name through a competition where 25,000 different suggestions were put forth. This made it the largest event of its kind in South Africa and generated a nice amount of publicity. The winning contribution reportedly came from a group of eight people, who will now enjoy free flights with the carrier, and have their names on one of the aircraft. Cape Town 737
Kulula’s founder is part of the team behind Lift. Photo: Getty Images

Customer perks

Lift is a collaboration between Global Aviation, founder Gidon Novick, and ex-Uber executive Jonathan Ayache. The carrier will start out with three Airbus A320 aircraft. All tickets will offer full flexibility for changes and cancellations without penalties.

The airline says it is taking advantage of the fundamental changes the industry is currently going through to implement a new business model with “stronger customer orientation.”

Online fashion retailer Superbalist will outfit the airline’s ground and cabin crew. Specialty coffee company Vida e Caffè will provide the coffee for morning flights, while the carrier will treat afternoon travelers to wine tasting sessions.

What do you make of Lift’s decision to launch operations at this time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.