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A South African Airways A340 pushing back at Washington Dulles International Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks)

South African Aviation Set For New Entrant in December

The South African aviation market may see a new entrant as early as December with the news that a joint venture between the founder of low-cost carrier kulula.com and Global Aviation has a name.
Business Insider South Africa reports that the airline will be called Lift after the moniker was chosen from over 25,000 suggestions in a competition to name the new carrier. The announcement coincided with the launch of the airline’s website which features a stylized logo and the opportunity
to ‘be the first to hear when we LIFT off’.
Givon Novick who was chief executive officer of Comair, the parent company of kulula.com, said, “It’s been a tough year for so many and the airline industry is in a mess. We want our new airline to be a collaboration with all South Africans and a statement of optimism”. Lift is “targeting a cost base that is 30% lower than existing operators utilizing an all-Airbus A320 fleet.” The inaugural route for Lift is expected to be between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.
Mr. Novick is partnering to launch the airline with Jonathan Ayache a former Uber executive and the leasing company Global Aviation which describes itself as ‘South Africa’s largest privately-owned ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) specialist’. Global Aviation operates the largest fleet of Airbus A320 and A340-500 aircraft in Sub Saharan Africa and has an approved aircraft maintenance organization.
In a July interview with the South African website MyBroadband, Mr. Novick discussed the new airline’s business model and stated: “a flexible model which can adjust to market demand is critical”. He said he expected “leisure travel will bounce back” and that “business travel will continue but at significantly lower volumes”. In a more recent interview, Mr. Novick has highlighted some of the opportunities the current crisis presents to a start-up airline. “The opportunity is to start fresh and unencumbered and to leverage off record low input costs and an abundance of talented and skilled people.”
Business Tech quotes Mr. Novick saying that other suggestions which were not considered included
Planey McPlaneface, Wakanda Air and Gravy Plane, which he said: “must have confused us with another airline”. A reference to South Africa’s troubled national airline which was awarded a further bailout from the South African government this week. The R10.5 billion ($640 million) bailout announced by South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday is in addition to R16.4 billion ($1 billion) set aside for the carrier earlier this year.
Lift enters the South African aviation market at a time of great uncertainty for the industry worldwide and locally. South African Airways (SAA) suspended all operations in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has not resumed flights even though the country permits trans-national commercial air travel under its current lockdown level. SAA advises its customers that ‘our suspension of services has given us the opportunity to concentrate on moving forward our much-publicized business rescue process.’ Mr. Novick’s former employer Comair is also grounded and in business rescue.


  • John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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