Lift to launch with two routes from Johannesburg

The latest addition to South Africa’s skies has revealed its inaugural routes.

South African start-up Lift will begin operations this December with two domestic routes from Johannesburg (JNB). 

Bookings have now opened for flights to Cape Town (CPT) and George (GRJ), starting on Dec. 10. The airline plans to operate 1X-daily between JNB and GRJ, and with a dynamic flight schedule of up to 6X-daily between JNB and CPT.

Lift is backed by Kulula founder and former Comair joint CEO Gidon Novick alongside former Uber executive Jonathan Ayache. The airline will lease three Airbus A320 from ACMI specialist Global Aviation. 

The carrier was named through a social media competition, with the winning prize being a pass for one year of free travel. More than 25,000 suggestions were submitted.

“The industry is undergoing a fundamental change and new business models are emerging in the industry where stronger customer orientation and more competition are evolving,” Lift said. 

“The airline has developed a unique flexible model where flights and routes can be quickly added based on demand.”

Data on the South African market

JNB-CPT was the busiest route in South Africa during 2019, with airlines offering in excess of six million two-way seats. Six carriers served the market, led by South African Airways and Kulula.

However, with the ongoing difficulties faced by South African Airways, South African Express and Comair, Lift clearly feels there is a space for another entrant to this busy market.

OAG Schedules Analyser data show that Airlink, Cemair, Comair, Kulula, Mango, Safair and South African Airways are all scheduled to operate services on the JNB-CPT route in December. 

On the JNB-GRJ route, the latest schedules show Lift will compete with Airlink, Cemair, Comair, Mango and Safair.

The launch of Lift comes as another South African carrier is preparing to begin flying. Stratus Air will operate flights from Johannesburg's secondary airport Lanseria International (HLA) to CPT as well as from Bloemfontein's Bram Fischer International (BFN) using Boeing 737 aircraft from December. Services to Newcastle (NCS) and Durban (DUR) are also planned.

Photo credit: Global Aviation

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