Is a global low-cost airlines alliance possible? Flypop’s CEO thinks so

British start-up carrier flypop may not have started passenger operations yet but its chief executive has big plans, including a vision for a low-cost airlines alliance stretching around the world.  

The carrier, based at London Stansted airport, wants to connect Britain with secondary cities in India, offering affordable fares in all-economy seating aircraft. It has commenced operations with cargo-only flights in cooperation with wet lease specialist Hi Fly and hopes to start passenger flights later in 2022. 

“We want to travel to the second cities, non-stop and at the cheapest possible fare,” Nino Singh Judge told the CAPA Airline Leader Summit on April 8, 2022.  

“We’re treating people who want to travel economy with respect. They shouldn’t be treated badly just because they’re at the back of the plane. We’re all economy, everyone is treated the same, it’s a really democratic product,” Judge declared.  

He said he sees the flypop business model as working for other diaspora communities, citing South Asia in general, Africa and the Caribbean as destinations from the UK.  

“It’s the same model – planes come back to Stansted every 24 hours,” he said, adding Indian cities could even be used as stopover for flights to Australia and New Zealand in the future.  

In the future, Judge said he would like to join forces with other low-cost carriers to create a global network of no-frills airlines offering affordable travel.  

“Ultimately, I would like to have a low-cost alliance with people traveling low-cost around the world. That’s where I’m trying to get at,” he stated.  

Flypop brought its second Airbus A330 into service in January 2022. Judge said at the conference that he would love to grow the airline to “a couple of hundred” aircraft in the future but that 10-30 aircraft in the next five years was more realistic.  

Judge also explained how starting the airline during the COVID-19 pandemic proved beneficial. The grounding of global aviation due to travel restrictions led to a glut of aircraft, crew and aviation managers becoming available. In particular, that allowed new players like flypop and Icelandic carrier Play to agree deals with leasing companies at rock-bottom prices, which keeps their operating costs down.  

“[Lessor] Avolon wouldn’t even pick the phone up pre-COVID… Then they were calling us saying ‘Would you like to have this aircraft? Would you like three?’” Judge revealed.   

 While flypop has been in the planning for seven years, Judge said he was glad he wasn’t able to get the funding to start operations sooner. “If we’d been financed 3 years before we’d be out of business by now!” 

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