South Africa’s new domestic airline Lift has opened bookings for flights, which are set to start on 10 December 2020 on two routes – Johannesburg to Cape Town, and Johannesburg to George.
Lift is a partnership between Global Aviation, Kulula founder Gidon Novick and former Uber executive Jonathan Ayache.
It is taking on established domestic airlines, including Kulula and FlySafair, during a time when many companies in the travel industry are struggling.
Many people questioned whether launching a new airline during the COVID-19 pandemic was wise, but Novick is confident it is the right time.
Speaking to eNCA, Novick said the pandemic has created an incredible opportunity to create and launch a new airline.
He said the competitive environment has changed, there are many aircraft available at low prices, and excellent skills are available.
A good example of the availability of skills is the number of applications which Lift received for cabin crew positions.
The new airline received over 7,000 applications for 30 cabin crew positions, which allows it to recruit experienced staff at fair salaries.
Commenting on the selection of routes, Novick said offering the Johannesburg to Cape Town route is logical as it is one of the most popular routes in the world.
He added that the Johannesburg to George route is growing in popularity because of the changes brought about by the pandemic.
Many professionals can now work remotely, which makes smaller towns like George, Knysna, and Oudtshoorn a popular destination.
Not a race to the bottom
Novick said they are not planning to engage in a price war with Kulula and FlySafair, as it is an unsustainable business model.
“Cutting prices is not a sustainable strategy. It is easy to do, but everyone will then lose money,” he said.
Instead, Lift will aim to offer an improved value proposition, more convenience, and a better experience than their competitors.
Lift put a lot of focus on flexibility, which will allow travellers to easily change their flight dates without any penalties.
Novick said their clients will be able to change or cancel their tickets within 24-hours of the flight. They will also be allowed to make changes multiple times.
He said travellers typically do not change their flights very often, but when they book, they want to know they can change if needed.
Pricing has, however, always been a key component for any airline to drive demand – and Lift needs to be competitive to acquire customers.
This raises the question as to how Lift’s pricing compares with Kulula and FlySafair on its routes.
To answer this question, MyBroadband compared the price for a single ticket on these routes on a random date – in this case, 17 December 2020.
The prices were collected on 10 November 2020, and the results are listed in the table below.
|Johannesburg to Cape Town|
|Lift||17 December 2020||R1,325.00||R1,795.00|
|Kulula||17 December 2020||R1,411.48||R1,984.48|
|FlySafair||17 December 2020||R1,422.00||R2,022.00|
|Cape Town to Johannesburg|
|Lift||17 December 2020||R855.00||R855.00|
|Kulula||17 December 2020||R882.48||R882.48|
|FlySafair||17 December 2020||R822.00||R920.00|
|Johannesburg to George|
|Lift||17 December 2020||R1,895.00||R1,895.00|
|Kulula||17 December 2020||R2,664.98||R3,527.48|
|FlySafair||17 December 2020||R2,222.00||R3,272.00|
|George to Johannesburg|
|Lift||17 December 2020||R1,095.00||R1,095.00|
|Kulula||17 December 2020||R1,514.98||R1,744.98|
|FlySafair||17 December 2020||R920.00||R1,422.00|