Would-be, low-cost, long-haul airline, POP, plans to shake up the industry with a completely new approach.
Firstly it is crowdfunding itself.
If it is to launch as planned in the autumn 2016, POP requires £5m to fund its first-year of 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.
Secondly the name POP stands for "People Over Profit".
Once operational It intends to donate more than half of its profits (51%) to charities in its destinations.
Thirdly, it is focusing its attention on non-stop routes between the UK and India's second tier cities, namely Amritsar (ATQ) and Ahmedabad (AMD).
The thinking is that 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 demand to the important 'secondary cities' of India.
Nino (Navdip) Singh Judge, Chairman and Principal of POP, says:
"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."
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).