Lift Beats 25,000 Suggestions As Name Of New South African Airline

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The airline industry is an incredibly diverse one, and this fact also applies to the names of carriers themselves. While some simply refer to their country of origin, others are more creative. While the naming of an airline is usually a corporate decision, South Africa’s latest carrier has been christened ‘Lift’ following extensive input from the country’s citizens.

Kulula.com Cape Town 737
One of Lift’s founders was also instrumental in setting up Kulula.com. Photo: Getty Images

Many months in the making

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had a huge financial impact on the airline industry. Dwindling passenger numbers have seen airlines such as South African Airways call for government aid in order to survive. All in all, now seems a very challenging time so start a new airline. And yet, also in South Africa, an established partnership is looking to do just that.

Simple Flying first reported in July 2020 that former Comair CEO and Kulula.com founder Gidon Novick was planning to launch a new South African low-cost carrier by the end of the year. Alongside Novick in this venture are Global Aviation and former Uber executive Jonathan Ayache.

SAA-Government-Funds-Set-Aside
Flag carrier South African Airways has experienced numerous financial difficulties this year. Nonetheless, Novick is pushing on with the launch of his new low-cost carrier in the country. Photo: Getty Images.

25,000 names suggested

Until now, the new airline has remained nameless. Last month, rather than keeping the decision a fully corporate matter, Novick instead invited the South African public to submit ideas for the carrier’s name. To encourage entries, the following prize for the winning name was up for grabs:

  • A year’s worth of flights on ‘airline X’ comprising 12 return flights for two (winner + partner).
  • Max value of R2000 (around $120) per person per flight.
  • Travel must be used within 12 months of winning.

Just over a month later, the winning entry has been announced – ‘Lift.’ Simple but effective, this name was chosen from over 25,000 entries. Eight South Africans had submitted this idea. In addition to a share of the prize, these individuals will also have their names inscribed on the airline’s first aircraft.

Business Tech reports that, according to Novick, “decision was made to choose a name that was relevant to the category, unique, optimistic and of course easy to pronounce and remember.” As one might expect, there was a huge variety among the 25,000 suggestions. Novick stated that:

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“Some were so thoughtful and inspiring like ‘Ubuntu Air’ and ‘FlyMzansi’. ‘Djyrynie’ and ‘Planey McPlaneface’ were never going to fly – while ‘Gravy Plane’ must have confused us with another airline.”

As well as Kulula.com, Lift will also have to compete with Mango for a share in South Africa’s low-cost airline market. Photo: Getty Images

Planned launch route

Much like Novick’s other airline venture, Kulula.com, Lift is planned to be a low-cost carrier. Given the struggles of the country’s flag carrier airline, this could prove to be exactly what the South African aviation industry needs.

Novick intends to launch Lift on the Cape Town (CPT) – Johannesburg (JNB) route. This corridor is fiercely competitive, and represented the world’s 11th busiest domestic route in 2019. The carrier is set to launch in December.

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It remains to be seen whether Lift will prove successful in gaining a share in the South African low-cost market. Nonetheless, one has to admire the bravery of Novick and his partners for going ahead with its launch at such a difficult time for the airline industry as a whole.

What would your name suggestion for Lift have been? Do you think that the airline will prove to be a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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