SA regional airline LIFT expects to triple seat capacity to 1.5 million: Report

LIFT, Airbus A320

South Africa-based regional airline LIFT is set to triple its seat capacity in 2023, the airline’s CEO said during an interview with Independent Online Business Report (IOL).  

In the interview, LIFT’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Jonathan Ayache confirmed that the airline will be adding more aircraft to its all-Airbus A320 fleet.  

“Lift is adding four aircraft to its fleet, which has been done using flexible capacity that can easily be increased or decreased based on demand,” Ayache said. 

Commenting on the airline having recently launched two domestic routes, Johannesburg-Durban and Durban-Cape Town, Ayache said: “We’re on track to increase our available seat capacity to roughly 1.5 million seats in 2023, a huge increase from 370 000.” 

LIFT’s new routes, which were launched in October 2022, accounted for up to 75% of the airline’s domestic passenger volumes during the festive season, Ayache said.  

Based at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, South Africa, LIFT was established in October 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The airline operates a fleet of six Airbus A320-200 aircraft, according to data

However, LIFT is not the only South Africa-based carrier adding capacity to its fleet. 

South Arica’s FlySafair announced in February 2023 that it intends to increase its fleet capacity during the first quarter of 2023. 

In an interview with IOL Business Report, airline spokesperson Kirby Gordon said FlySafair was hiring more crew and adding three aircraft to its fleet which would allow the airline to offer more options to its passengers.  

Gordon also said that the airline was preparing to open and expand new regional routes to neighboring countries. 

In October 2022, FlySafair received approval from the South African Air Services Licensing Council to operate to 10 new regional destinations. 

FlySafair operated its first regional route in March 2022, after launching two weekly flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg.  

In July 2022, regional airline Airlink signed a lease agreement with Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) for three Embraer E195 aircraft amid capacity volatility in South Africa’s domestic market following the collapse of Comair. 

Similarly, CemAir, a privately owned south African airline operating out of JNB, increased its fleet by up to 20% during the first half of 2022, taking on new Bombardier CRJ 900LRs and Dash 8-400s. 

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