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Jerusalema Air? New SA airline offers free flights for a winning name – here are proposals so far

New SA airline offers free flights for a winning name - here are proposals so far

A new airline – owned by the founder of kulula.com and a local airline leasing company – is coming.

It has launched a competition to find a name, and the person who comes up with a winning name could get a year’s worth of travel for free.

Some of the social-media frontrunners are Mzansi Airlines and Ubuntu Air.


As part of a new competition to name the country’s latest airline, South Africans have to October 2 to suggest a name.

Some frontrunners have emerged on social media, with names like Ubuntu Air and Mzansi Airways among the most common suggestions to name the airline, which will be a joint venture between local aircraft leasing company Global Aviation and kulula.com founder Gidon Novick. Global Aviation has been doing business in SA for almost two decades, and is also do charter flights.

Jonathan Ayache, a former Uber Africa executive, is also involved in the new venture, and Novick said the business model for the new airline was inspired by Uber. He wants the airline to be as technology oriented as Uber, as well as equally “customer obsessed”.

The new airline is entering a crippled industry. Comair – which owns kulula and manages British Airways in SA – is in business rescue and grounded. SAA, also in business rescue, only does international repatriation flights. SAA-owned Mango, which still fly locally, may be grounded soon after SAA Technical, which does its maintenance, this weekend said it won’t supply these services anymore – unless its unpaid bills are settled.

FlySafair, which does its own maintenance, is the only airline that isn’t under imminent threat – although the pandemic and lockdown have decimated the demand for flights.

“The opportunity is to start fresh and unencumbered and to leverage off record low input costs and an abundance of talented and skilled people. The airline is targeting a cost base that is 30% lower than existing operators utilising an all Airbus A320 fleet,” Novick told SA TIMES. The first flight, between Johannesburg and Cape Town, is planned for December 2020.

But first it needs a name, and the airline launched a competition to find a name that is “unique, aspirational, and cool”. If your name is selected, you could win 12 return flights for you and a partner, which must be used within 12 months of winning.

There has been no shortage of names suggested on social media, with some of the more left-field suggestions including Wakanda Air, DjyRyNie and Lekker Airlines.

Other names suggested on social media include:

  • Air South Africa
  • Marula Airlines
  • MzansiFly
  • Jerusalema airlines
  • Dablap (Double up) Airline – proposed motto: Your shortcut to the world
  • Hambanathi Airline
  • Express Wings
  • Protea Airline

The winner will be announced on October 9, and names can be entered at www.satimes.co.za

Letting the public choose a name can be a way to create free publicity, and last month, Uzbekistan launched a competition to rename its regional airports in a bid to boost tourism.

But it can backfire: In the UK, a public vote to name a polar research ship overwhelmingly handed it to “Boaty McBoatface”. In the end, the organisers decided to ignore the public vote, and went with RRS Sir David Attenborough.