The liquidation of the operator of kulula.com and British Airways domestic flights has left a gap in the market.
SA’s youngest airline Lift plans to grow its fleet of aircraft by up to three times by the end of 2022, in part to cater for the void left by Comair.
Lift co-founder and CEO Jonathan Ayache says that although expansion has been on the cards for the airline, Comair’s sudden exit from the market has expedited Lift’s growth plans.
“Our expansion plans have definitely been expedited … We’re looking to increase our fleet two to three times before the end of the year.”
However, he says that in order to avoid the same fate suffered by Comair, any expansion beyond that will be dictated by market demand.
“Traditionally, airlines are very focused on growing their seat capacity and hope that there’s the demand when it isn’t there … We’re very focused on being demand driven as opposed to being supply driven and [wanting] growth at all costs.”
Lift currently operates three Airbus A320 aircraft on its Johannesburg-Cape Town route, with each flight having a capacity of 162 passengers – 150 in economy and 12 premium seats. This is less than the seat capacity offered by market competitors FlySafair, which operates about 24 Boeing-737 planes that can carry around 189 passengers per flight.
Ayache says Lift is also looking to expand its presence to more local routes, such as Johannesburg-Durban and to the Eastern Cape in future.