A new UK-based international low-cost carrier (LCC) called Flypop plans to launch passenger flights to India next year. Some funding for the startup airline—“an eight-figure sum,” according to Flypop—will come from an investment by the UK government’s Future Fund.
The new airline is in the process of completing its final funding round, which is expected to be done in January. The next major steps are the negotiation of airport arrangements in the UK and India and aircraft needs with manufacturers at low prices that will support Flypop’s ambitions. Flights should begin in the fourth quarter of 2021 or possibly later, with one aircraft initially but orders for 10 to 20 widebodies.
Although Flypop aims to launch service next year, it will have to wait until the Covid pandemic is resolved. The airline’s goal is to “cater not only to the UK’s Indian/South Asian diaspora (and their visiting friends and relatives) but will also serve those keen to explore the Indian sub-continent and region with very low-priced flights.”
The company told AIN that the first scheduled flights are now provisionally planned for the fourth quarter of 2021. The operation will begin with just one aircraft, but with plans to place orders for between 10 and 20 widebody airliners.
“The funding from the UK government’s Future Fund will play a key role in putting Flypop in a position to start flights, initially between the UK and India, something which will contribute significantly to the economic growth and closer cultural links between these two Commonwealth partners and eventually with all of South Asia,” said Flypop founder and CEO Nino Singh Judge.
Companies like Flypop have access to Future Fund money as the government is trying to help innovators that have been affected by the pandemic but haven’t been able to access other coronavirus support programs. The Future Fund has made £250 million ($323 million) available since it was launched in May, and this will be matched by private investors, but that amount will climb due to the program’s popularity.
The Flypop announcement comes in a week when the UK air transport sector is bracing for the start of a full national lockdown in the UK starting on Thursday. The new rules prohibit passengers from making trips outside the country for purposes other than business in a move that airlines fear could be a body blow after demand has been suppressed by 14-day quarantine requirements.
The UK industry has strongly urged the government to provide direct financial support to sustain airlines and airports. So far, apart from some non-sector-specific assistance with furlough support, the government has offered no more than a commitment to introducing an as-yet-unspecified Covid testing regime for passengers.