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New local airline Lift has opened its website for bookings as it prepares to officially begin operations on 10 December- but first, it wants the public to settle on a design for its planes.

Lift has published a public poll to select its aircraft livery. This comes after the group asked the public to name the new local airline which resulted in over 25,000 name suggestions and a total of eight winners with the name Lift.

“We were overwhelmed by the public response to naming our airline. We’d like to continue including the public in decisions around other components of the brand,” said Gidon Novick, co-founder of Lift.

The initial three Airbus A320 aircraft are being prepared for their first flight on 10 December – just in time for the peak holiday season, Novick said.

“M&C Saatchi came up with a striking brand design and color palette. We’d like help in finding the most beautiful and impactful combination.”

The two designs can be seen below. An Instagram account has been set up with the poll, and it will be open until Monday (23 November).

Option 1

Option 2

Novick said that the airline plans to offer flexibility to customers, as well as competitive pricing.

“Anyone who travels with us will have a fully flexible ticket and will be able to change their flight as many times as they want to without fees. Our hypothesis is that with that in mind, people will become more comfortable to book, and less anxious about traveling,” he said.

However, Novick said that the airline doesn’t plan to undercut competitors or start a race to the bottom: “We will focus our efforts on adding value, not cutting prices. We want to redefine the customer journey from start to finish,” he said.

Novick said that customers’ payments will be kept in a separate structure until after the flights are flown — to avoid them losing money in the event the airline goes bust. This is a departure from industry norms globally, he said.

“It’s our basic belief that customers should not fund airlines and neither should governments,” he said. “No rational argument has been put forward that gives anybody confidence that it is necessary to put money into SAA that should have been invested in social projects and health care.”

The new airline is a partnership between established operator Global Aviation, Novick, and former Uber executive Jonathan Ayache. A group of highly experienced industry specialists have also joined the team.

Lift will have a low fixed-cost base and no debt, and a flexible staffing and resourcing structure.

It will use Global’s existing infrastructure, aircraft, maintenance facilities, cabin crew, and pilots and its central flight control facility, leveraging off Global’s long experience in providing full-service leasing for bespoke charters or to other airlines (Comair included) when they needed backup planes.

Lift will initially operate three aircraft which will fly up to seven return flights a day on the Cape Town and George routes.

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