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Local airline 'Lift Premium' lifts off during pandemic

LIFT chief executive and co-founder Jonathan Ayache.

LIFT chief executive and co-founder Jonathan Ayache.

Published Oct 12, 2021


Cape Town - A new South African airline – the only airline launching during the Covid-19 pandemic – introduced its new enhanced customer experience, targeting business and frequent travellers.

Lift Premium went live with its inaugural flight taking off from Cape Town to Johannesburg on Monday.

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Lift Premium allows for unlimited flight changes, with passengers able to change or cancel their flight right up until one hour before departure without any penalties.

Premium travellers have access to priority boarding, fast-tracked security, priority customer support, a dedicated check-in area and lounge access, as well as additional baggage allowance and catering options.

“Many people thought we were pretty crazy launching an airline in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are actually the only airline in the whole world to launch at such a time. Fortunately, it has gone very well,” said Lift co-founder Gidon Novick.

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“We are not trying to be too fancy, like some of the other airlines, we are trying to keep it nice and relaxed and it seems to be working really well. But mostly what I wanted to say is that Lift is really mostly about the crew and the incredible people that work at Lift. They really do make it what it is.”

Lift marketing member Haydn Henning said the airline operates domestically, with an average of around 10 flights daily between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“I am excited that there is another premium offering that our country so deserves on our domestic routes. People love luxury and I’m glad that we are now able to offer it in this market,” said Henning.

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“We like to say ‘Watch this space’, when asked about upcoming routes,” said Henning.

Lift chief executive and co-founder Jonathan Ayache said: “Our bookings opened on November 10, 2020, and first flight was on December 10, 2020. It's almost been a year. We launched with our enhanced economy product and now we’re at Cape Town International Airport to launch our premium product which is our interpretation of the future of what business travel should be.

“We launched this airline because more broadly we saw that the industry had become very transactional. People are treated as a number, as a ticket and not as people and we thought there’s a better way.

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“There’s an opportunity to treat people as customers. So that’s what we’ve been focusing on for the last year. Whether that’s just making sure that people get a response to their customer support issues or offering great experience with a smile at the airport and focusing on solving problems.”

Ayache said Lift is also the first to launch Pet Travel, where passengers are able to bring their furry loved ones along.

“We did a concert in the sky with a silent disco and we’re continuing to look more broadly at what we can do to innovate. The next step is Premium,” said Ayache.