Stimulating India Demand Is 'Golden Ticket' For Flypop

CEO Navdip Singh Judge says that if its long-haul low-cost model doesn’t work then that business model doesn’t work.

Credit: Flypop

Startup Flypop is “very close” to securing its air operator’s certificate as it seeks to launch its first passenger flights between the UK and India.

Speaking on April 7 at the CAPA Leader Summit in Manchester, CEO Navdip Singh Judge said the conditions were “almost perfect” for the long-haul low-cost airline to enter to the market.

Flypop plans to fly nonstop from London Stansted (STN) to secondary cities in India targeting VFR traffic. Although its launch network has yet to be revealed, the carrier has identified Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata and Pune as focus cities.

“We’re just waiting for our AOC and it’s very close,” Judge said. “We will offer the cheapest possible seats to South Asia—more than 50% cheaper than the legacies. I can’t make it any cheaper.

“We’ve locked in as low as possible and we hope it works. And if it doesn’t work, then low-cost long-haul doesn’t work, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”

The carrier intends to operate Airbus A330-300s on passenger routes, equipped with 391 seats. It took delivery of its second aircraft in January. Both have been subleased to charter airline Hi Fly for cargo operations.

“We’re doing so well with our cargo JV with Hi Fly that for the first time ever a startup airline isn't burning cash into launch—we’re making cash,” Judge said. “We’ll launch when I’m absolutely ready. But we’re very close and the conditions are almost perfect.”

Judge said that he expects demand to be 75% from the UK to India. Flypop therefore hopes to increase demand in India with its low fares, taking market share from Air India.

Judge said: “The intention is to stimulate the demand India side coming west. If I can do that, I haven’t got enough aircraft. That’s the golden ticket. We’ll offer really low fares to a 1.4 billion market who wants to travel.”

He added: “I think because of COVID people want to fly nonstop. That’s our USP—flying nonstop to secondary cities in India. That’s what our diaspora wants.”

The UK-India market is currently served nonstop by four carriers. Air India serves London Heathrow (LHR) from Ahmedabad (AMD), Amritsar (ATQ), Cochin (COK), Delhi (DEL), Goa (GOI), Hyderabad (HYD) and Mumbai (BOM), as well as Birmingham (BHX) from Amritsar.

British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic and Vistara each serve LHR-DEL, while BA and Virgin operate LHR-BOM. Bengaluru (BLR), Chennai (MAA) and Hyderabad are also served from LHR by BA. 

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