South African start-up airline Lift has launched flights between Johannesburg and Durban. The inaugural flight departed on October 26th, operated by one of the airline’s Airbus A320 aircraft.
The airline will now fly three times per day from Johannesburg O R Tambo International Airport (JNB), the busiest airport in the country, to Durban King Shaka International Airport (DUR), the third-busiest.
Lift is keen to fill the gap in the market left by the demise of both Mango and Comair. The airline will however face significant competition on the route from four other airlines – FlySafair, South African Airways, Cemair, and Airlink.
The flight schedule
Lift will operate three flights per day, each with a block time of one hour and 15 minutes. The schedule is as follows:
- Flight GE201 – departs Johannesburg at 06:00 and arrives in Durban at 07:05
- Flight GE202 – departs Durban at 08:00 and arrives in Johannesburg at 09:05
- Flight GE209 – departs Johannesburg at 12:00 and arrives in Durban at 13:05
- Flight GE210 – departs Durban at 13:55 and arrives in Johannesburg at 15:00
- Flight GE211 – departs Johannesburg at 16:00 and arrives in Durban at 17:05
- Flight GE212 – departs Durban at 18:05 and arrives in Johannesburg at 19:10
A boost to Durban’s economy
The CEO and co-founder of Lift, Jonathan Ayache, celebrated his airline’s latest route launch, saying,
“It’s no secret that Durban has had its fair share of struggles over the past two years, and we are just so proud and happy to play a small part in bringing back travel and tourism to such a deserving city. Durban is one of the most common requests we receive on social media and has been on our radar for a while, and for that, we couldn’t be more excited.”
Simple Flying recently chatted with Ayache about how the airline was able to begin operations in just 90 days – read more here.
The news was well-received locally too, with KwaZulu-Natal’s Department for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs stating,
“The launch of Lift Airlines air services to Durban is a welcome addition to King Shaka International Airport, improving the much-needed capacity on one of South Africa’s most popular routes – Durban to Johannesburg.”
Durban airport was formally named in 2010. Following public consultations, the name King Shaka International Airport was chosen, in honor of King Shaka, the leader of the Zulu nation in the early 19th century. South Africa was hit hard by the pandemic, and the airport lost a number of routes as a result, including British Airways’ direct service to London Heathrow on its Boeing 787 aircraft.
Lift’s inaugural flight to Johannesburg will give a boost to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport and the region’s economy. In a sign of the airport’s continued recovery, another new route that will launch on November 17th is TAAG Angola Airlines’ service to Luanda.
Flexibility – Lift’s unique selling point
Lift currently has three Airbus A320 aircraft in its fleet, each seating 180 passengers. The airline prides itself as being “South Africa’s most flexible airline,” with unique perks including, free seat selection, onboard food and drink, and the option to receive a full refund in the form of credit in the Lift wallet to use towards future flights. The feature has so far proven to be popular with passengers.
Have you flown on Lift since the airline began operations in December 2020? Share your experiences by commenting below.