Lift airlines South Africa
Lift airlines' Airbus A320 at Cape Town International Airport (Image: Luke Daniel/Business Insider South Africa)
  • Lift will operate its first commercial flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town on Thursday 10 December.
  • South Africa’s newest low-cost carrier is co-founded by the former CEO of Kulula.com and looks to compete against FlySafair, kulula and Mango.
  • The airline will operate three local routes, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and George.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

* This article has been updated below.

South Africa’s newest passenger airline, Lift, will conduct its inaugural flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town on Thursday 10 December 2020. After launching in October by way of a social media campaign which called on the public to name the airline, Lift looks to capitalise on air travel’s resurgence in a post-pandemic South Africa.

The airline, which aims to focus on three primary routes – Cape Town, Johannesburg, and George – was founded by two South Africans with solid acumens in the commercial travel industry. Before taking Lift to the skies, Gidon Novick founded one of South Africa’s first low-cost airlines, Kulula.com, back in 2001. Novick is also credited as the creator of the SLOW Lounge Concept, which has been rolled out as a luxurious in-transit rest area at South Africa’s major international airports.

Lift airlines South Africa
Lift airlines' Airbus A320 at Cape Town International Airport (Image: Luke Daniel/Business Insider South Africa)

Novick is joined by Jonathan Ayache, who was head of operations for Uber in Sub Saharan Africa.

Together, Novick and Ayache hope to position Lift as a an “Uber-thinking” airline operation which can compete with the likes of Kulula.com, Mango and FlySafair.

“Many of us have been put under pressure due to Covid-19, so efficiency is [at the] forefront in our minds,” said Novick in response to the air travel industry’s embattled state of affairs and the curious timing of Lift’s launch. “There’s [also] the opportunity for creativity [and] this is the time where traditional, normal ways of thinking don’t necessarily solve the problems that we are faced with.”

Lift airlines South Africa
Lift founders, Jonathan Ayache (left) and Gidon Novick (right) (Image: Luke Daniel/Business Insider South Africa)

Lift looks to carve out its own place in the highly competitive airline market by offering flexible booking options, including free-of-charge cancellations – if made 24 hours or more in advance – and additional fees for check-in luggage. Booking a seat with extra legroom is also an optional extra which will come at a price.   

Lift’s return tickets from Johannesburg to Cape Town in January 2021 range from R1,500 to R2,500. While these prices are beaten by South Africa’s most popular low-cost carrier, FlySafair, Lift competes well with Mango and Kulula.com.

Lift airlines South Africa
Lift airlines' Airbus A320 interior (Image: Luke Daniel/Business Insider South Africa)
Lift airlines South Africa
List of names who successfully chose 'Lift' as the airline's name as part of a social media campaign ( Image: Luke Daniel/Business Insider South Africa)

Lift’s fleet consists of three old Airbus A320s leased from Global Airways. Because of its streamlined fleet, Lift claims its operating costs are approximately 30% lower than that of its main competitors.

Lift airlines South Africa
Lift airlines' Airbus A320 at Cape Town International Airport (Image: Luke Daniel/Business Insider South Africa)

All in-flight drinks and snacks will be provided for by Vida e Caffe. Ground and cabin crew outfits have been "curated" by online fashion retailer Superbalist.

Lift crew members in their outfits, which are "curated" by Superbalist. Image: Instagram

Update: A previous version of this article held that the planes Lift uses have been in operation since "201". The planes not, in fact, more than 1,800 years old. Business Insider South Africa apologises for the error.


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