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JR Achiever taking to the low-cost skies

Jewish Report’s 2014 Absa Jewish Achiever event was the most read about – appearing on over 4 000 web pages. One of the winners, Ivor Ichikowitz, occupied almost the entire front page of Business Times this week as a pivotal player in the newly launched low-cost airline Flyafrica, which aims to bring R50 one-way flights between Johannesburg & Cape Town. Once again, our eminent and independent judging panel seems to have made a great choice. Read all about Ivor’s new venture and the 2014 Absa Jewish Achievers.





Billionaire arms manufacturer Ivor Ichikowitz’s name had been mentioned before in regard to the battle for the low-cost skies. And now it seems that the rumours are true. Business Times said that Ivor, “a vocal supporter and funder of the ANC, has emerged as a pivotal player in the newly launched low-cost airline Flyafrica’s battle for the skies”.

JNF - Tu B'shvatFlyafrica launched six months ago and is owned by a private equity company based in Mauritius. It currently offers flights between SA and Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia.

RIGHT: Ivor Ichikowitz 

The airline plans to open a base in SA this year, and boasts that it will be offering flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town at an unbelievable R50 each way.

Ivor is the founder and executive chairman of the Paramount Group – the biggest privately owned defence and aerospace business in Africa, bringing in more than R11 billion a year in sales.

He also owns a private-equity company called Transafrica Capital, which, according to Business: “insiders say is backing the new airline.”

‘Considering putting serious weight behind it’

Flyafrica CEO Adrian Hamilton-Manns denied to the Sunday Times that Ichikowitz provided cash to the new airline. But an employee at Transafrica told Business Times that the airline was “under our umbrella”. Transafrica invests in aerospace, telecommunications and property, among other things.

Some popular Achievers reads

Creative, peppy, different, brilliant – the opening vid was a show-stopper

Read about all the glitz and glamour of the premiere social event on the SA Jewish calendar

Download or read the 2013 and 2014 Achievers’ events magazines

SAJR’s most popularly followed live blog ever – more followed online than attended the event

Click here to see all of the stories on the spectacular 2014 Absa Jewish Achiever Awards

Contacted last week, Ichikowitz told Business times that he was a close friend of Hamilton-Manns, and that he had helped raise funds for the airline. Ichikowitz said that while he wasn’t yet invested, he was looking at getting financially involved and was doing substantial due diligence on Flyafrica. “I’m considering putting serious weight behind it,” he said.

Ichikowitz added, however, that if he did invest, it wouldn’t be through Transafrica. Three members of the airline industry, whose names were not quoted in the Business Times front-page story, said they believed Ichikowitz was behind the company.

“It’s his,” said one. Another said: “He is the main funder.”

Ichikowitz was adamant there was nothing cloak-and-dagger about his connection to the airline. But pundits are sceptical about whether Flyafrica’s plans for the R50 Cape Town flights, would be sustainable.

JNF - Tu B'shvatOwn planes

Hamilton-Manns, a past executive VP at SAA who has been involved in low-cost carriers around the world, said Flyafrica would be able to offer such cheap fares because it owns its planes outright and doesn’t lease them.

RIGHT: Extract from Jewish Report Achiever s mag, download it all:

 “This means we have a low cost of capital,” he said.

He said the airline would have a low staff complement, and its strategy was to be a franchise operation, in which it tied up with local carriers in different countries. The new entities would operate under the Flyafrica colours.

Flyafrica currently flies just three routes, but Hamilton-Manns’ idea is for it to juggernaut across sub-Saharan Africa this year. A third Southern African base – tipped to be Malawi – would probably be announced before the end of the month, with a fourth base in West Africa to follow.

Hein Kaiser, spokesman for Mango, said that “fares significantly below cost weren’t sustainable over extended periods of time… it can be expected that launch fares will fast climb to business-sustainable levels”.

Dave Andrews, CEO of Flysafair, said: “This is plainly not sustainable when the tax element of a domestic flight is more than triple that amount. “No airline can sustainably offer average fares which are below average costs,” he said.

Flysafair offers one-way trips of R499 between Cape Town and Johannesburg to passengers who book early, but essentially a mix of fares was charged.

Stories in series: Top Reads 2014:

= How it works and how to find, share and follow the series

SHALOM, TATA, WE WILL REMEMBER YOU… ALWAYS= The natural place to start, last December 

CAMPUS BATTLEFIELDS ARE NOW MORE LEVEL= The fall from grace of Rhodes in Jan for anti-Israeli activity cost them plenty of money and managers – the year’s top read

NEW WORDS FOR JEWS IN 5774= The “QUENELLE”, ISIS, #BringBackOurBoys & “tunnel” join new Scrabble words like “schmutz” & tuchus. The 5774 glossary…

UPDATE FROM PROTECTIVE EDGE CORRESPONDENT= Boni’s letters home & RoRo’s “Reports From The Ground” plus a new letter from proud mum Bonita

J’SALEM PREPARES FOR MASSIVE SNOW IN COMING DAYS= Mayor Nir Barkat schedules visit to check snow preparedness this afternoon – residents being advised to stay indoors. SEE LAST WINTER’S TOP-READ live-blog & pics as it was happening…

ACHIEVER TAKING TO THE LOW-COST SKIES= Among our users’ Top Reads in 2014 was the Jewish Report Absa Jewish Achiever Awards stories, the live blog and the Gala event. This week one of the top picks is making big news

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Denis Solomons

    Jan 16, 2015 at 6:26 am

    ‘R50 a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg is unbelievable !

    Bring it on Flyafrica.

    A Shekeach to Ivor Ichikowitz !

    An Absa SAJR Achiever who has made good .’

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Nominations are now open for Absa Jewish Achiever Awards 2021




  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has achieved iconic status within the business community.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has played a critical leadership role in business during this period.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has achieved national recognition and acclaim in their profession during this period.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has a proven track record in entrepreneurial ventures.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has served the Jewish community with remarkable distinction.


  • Honouring the leadership, success and overall contributions of distinctive Jewish women in business or in the broader South African community.

in honour of Helen Suzman

  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has contributed in an extraordinary manner over a long period of time.


  • Awarded to a Jewish person who has excelled in any of these spheres.

In honour of Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris

  • Awarded to a Jewish or non-Jewish person who has contributed substantially to the betterment of the lives of the people of South Africa.

To nominate visit this page.

Nominations close at 17:00 on 3 September 2021

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Build hope by reaching out and nominating



As the sun rises through the darkness of the pandemic and looting in South Africa, we begin to renew our hope for the future, and with that, we start our search to celebrate our Absa Jewish Achievers in 2021. Nominations are now open.

This year, we will celebrate on 7 November with great ‘hope’, the theme of this year’s event that so perfectly fits our growing sentiments.

The past 18 months have been so incredibly tough on our community, our country, and our world. What with more than 200 Jewish people dying from the COVID-19 pandemic in Johannesburg alone, we have really felt the coronavirus to our core.

We haven’t been able to be at loved one’s funerals, and have sat shiva alone. We have isolated from our loved ones to protect them. We have put much of our lives on hold because of this illness. Many have lost businesses and livelihoods.

But the end of this pandemic is in sight. We have “hope” again. As we vaccinate en masse, we move towards a new tomorrow.

We survived the wholesale looting and violence of the past month, and people have gone to great lengths to help each other make it through.

As a community, we work best together. We support each other, making us stronger and more resilient.

The Absa Jewish Achiever Awards is all about our community putting heads together and coming up with those unique individuals who stand head and shoulders above others.

We will pull out all the stops to celebrate our 2021 achievers on 7 November. Once again, we’ll keep it online to avoid any potential COVID-19 risks. But in so doing, we’ll bring your international fantasies to life with our annual revelry. And in so doing, we will enable far more people to participate than can fit in a large hall. Last year, we took our numbers from 1 000 to 60 000 viewers.

It’s time to look around and find those unique individuals, those gems within our community who have performed in their own areas like no other. You know who they are, and they will be given the kavod only if you nominate them for the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards. It’s up to you.

“The Absa Jewish Achiever Awards is so important as it allows us as a community to take stock and celebrate our disproportionate contribution to the people of South Africa,” says Howard Sackstein, Absa Jewish Achiever chairperson.

“It allows us to create role models for everyone to emulate as we celebrate the extraordinary. In so doing, we encourage others to find greatness in their own fields.”

Though we will once again be looking for lifetime achievers this year, a humanitarian champion, and those who have gone way beyond the call of duty for the community, we are also focusing on those who have excelled in the past year.

We want to find those outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves over this past year with its unique challenges.

We are looking for nominees in the following: women in leadership; business award; entrepreneurship; business icon; professional excellence community award winner; a lifetime achiever; a winner in sport, science and culture; and a humanitarian award winner (who doesn’t have to be Jewish).

It’s up to you to nominate these people. Without your nominations, they won’t get the acknowledgement they deserve. Although there are judges involved, we need your nominations and online participation in the public vote.

This is a communal event, focusing on our magnificent community, to find the individuals that will become icons for the rest of us. “As you all know, we work best as a community, and in this, we encourage each other to take pride in the achievements of others,” says Sackstein.

Nominations are open from today, until 17:00 on 3 September.

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Achiever Awards reimagined



It’s official: not even a pandemic can stop the South African Jewish community from paying tribute to the heroes in its midst.

Against a background of social distancing and sanitisation, thousands came together last Sunday for the most iconic iteration of the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards in its 22-year history.

Instead of gathering in person at a decked-out venue, guests participated in an evening of glamour and fine dining from the comfort of their own home for the first ever online version of the annual awards ceremony.

Other than hundreds of paying and invited guests, between 30 000 and 60 000 people from around the world also watched the spectacular event on YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and Zoom.

No effort was spared to ensure that the evening was as enthralling online as it would in person. In the run-up to Sunday night, couriers shuttled staggering numbers of cocktail packs to each individual guest’s home, making sure that the annual Achievers magic wasn’t lost.

Gin, tonic, and prosecco flowed freely in homes across South Africa as participants prepared to watch a livestream of the awards ceremony, ready to raise a l’chaim as they cheered the winners.

As if this wasn’t enough, many guests who would otherwise have reserved a table at the live event also had a lavish three-course gourmet kosher meal delivered to their doorstep. Arriving in a sleek cylindrical box, the spread included tantalising entrees, a mouth-watering main course, and even an array of sweet treats to accompany the evening’s viewing.

The meals were catered by Maxi Kosher Discount Butchery and styled by Dolores Fouche under the strict supervision of the Johannesburg Beth Din. Added to the food, there were beautiful fabric placemats, napkins, face masks, and even the traditional Achiever kippa for participants. Each featured the artwork of renowned South African artist Kim Lieberman.

The evening began with an exclusive red-carpet event presented by Dina Diamond, with various nominees joining her virtually to chat before the ceremony got underway. Excitement mounted as the red carpet concluded at 18:00 when the Awards ceremony began.

“For the past 21 years, we have gathered in hotel boardrooms and convention centres to celebrate the remarkable and disproportionate contribution made by the Jewish community to the development of post-apartheid South Africa,” said Howard Sackstein, chairperson of the SA Jewish Report and the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards.

“When we started planning tonight’s event more than a year ago, we didn’t expect to be playing hide and seek with a virus. We didn’t predict that the world would be gripped in the vice of a worldwide pandemic that has so sadly claimed the lives of so many in our community.

“This year, we cannot just recognise nine winners. We as the board of the SA Jewish Report feel the need to pay tribute to literally hundreds of South Africans who have been an ohr lagoyim [a light unto the nations].

“Tonight, we announce our roll of honour to recognise and pay tribute to the many South Africans who have sacrificed so much for a better South Africa during the pandemic of 2020.”

That list was both extensive and illustrious. This year’s winning personalities included seasoned entrepreneur Liran Assness, the chief executive of holding company Sekta and recipient of The Kirsh Family Entrepreneur Award; Ferrari icon turned cheese aficionado Jody Scheckter, who received the Art, Science, Sports and Culture Award; as well as Wendy Fisher, acclaimed sculptor and philanthropic powerhouse, who took the Humanitarian Award in honour of the late Chief Rabbi, Cyril Harris.

Title sponsor Absa’s award categories recognised the accomplishments of renowned lawyer Professor Michael Katz with the Absa Business Icon Award. Professor Mervyn Mer, the principal specialist and head of intensive-care at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital received the timely Absa Professional Excellence in the Time of Covid Award, and Discovery’s Dr Jonathan Broomberg walked away with the Absa Business Leadership in the Time of Covid Award.

The Europcar Women in Leadership Award went to Pick n Pay group’s Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, and Professor Barry Schoub, retired expert in vaccinology and virology, was recognised for his contribution to humanity with the Kia Community Service Award.

Ninety-eight-year-old Sir Sydney Kentridge, whose lifetime in service of the law is nothing short of legendary, received the Lifetime Achievement Award in honour of Helen Suzman for his decades of service. Even Sackstein received a surprise award – the Lawrence and Karen Abrahamson Family Award for his efforts to connect the Jewish community with an array of webinars during the lockdown period.

Not even the annual event’s signature entertainment was dispensed with this year. Jewish comedian Gilli Apter kept guests giggling as compere, and the musical performances screened between each presentation were spectacular.

These included the melodies of singer Danielle Bitton and opera aficionado Yudi Cohen, whose performance of The Prayer shook the speakers in every home. They were joined by the toe-tapping yiddishe music of Caely-Jo, and even international Jewish-music sensation the Maccabeats.

Completing the line-up of musical magic was Choni G and six-year-old Bibi Shapiro (whose Avinu Malkeinu previously took YouTube by storm), and Jonathan Roxmouth of Phantom of the Opera fame.

In true Achiever Awards style, this once-in-a-lifetime event delivered an evening that not only paid tribute to the heroic personalities among us, but also provided a much-needed dose of positivity and joy.

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