POP the new low-cost, long-haul airline in the making, plans to operate non-stop flights from the UK to Amritsar (ATQ) and Ahmedabad (AMD).
Currently flights between the UK and India are predominantly between London Heathrow and just two main destinations, Mumbai and Delhi, and three supporting ones, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. There are also a number of indirect UK to India routes through the Middle East. This ignores the important ‘secondary cities’ of India that would undoubtedly benefit from point-to-point flights from the UK.
There is a growing demand for such a route driven by India’s increasing prosperity, rapid urbanization and industrial development, and not least by the growing aspirations of its population. POP aims to provide an ‘Enhanced-Value’ airline combining a number of factors including highly competitive fares, self-selected on-board and ground services, and convenient, non-stop flights. Additionally, POP’s unique business model will put ‘People Over Profit’ by donating 51 % of its profits to charities in the communities that it serves.
The ‘leading-edge’ states of Punjab and Gujarat and their respective cities of Amritsar and Ahmedabad, particularly in terms of their growth and ambition, symbolize the new India that is expected to be home to the largest internet-savvy working population in the world.
The visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and leisure/tourism sectors are one of India’s fastest growing aerospace markets. POP directly targets these whilst offering the business sector two new routes with a tailored, non-stop service. The needs of the VFR and leisure/tourism markets will be met at affordable prices and at service levels that will ensure market penetration by word of mouth.
Nino (Navdip) Singh Judge, Chairman and Principal of POP, commented:
“POP is different – it is going to be a UK airline whose DNA is Indian. The Punjabi and Gujarati communities in both the UK and India historically have had strong family and business connections and that desire for both communities to keep in touch and visit each other has not abated over the years. Add to that India’s booming economy and the rise of the middle classes – including the expansion in their numbers, their larger disposable income, their increasing spending power and their insatiable desire to travel all means there are vast numbers of potential passengers waiting for an airline like POP to offer them the opportunity to fly. Combine the fact that passengers are contributing to the improvement of their own society in both the UK and India – perhaps even helping a village or an individual known to them personally – means there is an excellent chance for POP’s two proposed routes to Amritsar and Ahmedabad of being a great success.”
POP requires £5m to launch the airline’s first-year operation. It is currently amidst a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign which involves the offer of POP Gold Passes, each priced at £500, to supporters who are attracted by a different kind of rewards package.
The majority of British Indians originate from Punjab and Gujarat and there are at least 1.26 million Indians close to or within easy reach of London Stansted – in London and the south regions of England and the Midlands.
It is anticipated that the first POP flight will depart from Stansted Airport this year in Q4 (2016) to Amritsar using a 378 seat all-economy Airbus A330-300 aircraft in POP livery. POP has plans to expand its initial services and introduce further routes between the UK and India. Additional destination candidates include Kolkata, Lucknow, Panaji/Mangalore (Goa), Surat/Pune and Bhubaneswar (Odisha) (presuming upgrading as international airports); also Sylhet (Bangladesh).