POP is set to become not just a new airline, not just the only airline currently to fly non-stop from the UK to two of India’s key secondary cities – Amritsar (Punjab) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) – but an airline with a new unique business model.
POP is a new, low-cost, long-haul airline with a social conscience that will meet the demand of the growing visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market as well as the expanding leisure-tourism and business sectors.
Being established as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) business, POP will enhance the lives of those in the communities it serves by donating a minimum of 51% of its profits to fund social projects in the UK and India.
Passengers will be consulted when booking as to their preferences in terms of the ‘community causes’ they wish POP to support. POP’s philanthropic-giving will enhance the unquantifiable assets of reputation and trustworthiness while gaining a competitive advantage as research illustrates that consumers consider businesses to have an obligation to support the local communities in which they operate.
In the first instance, all of POP’s charitable giving will be made through the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), although a dedicated charitable foundation may be established in due course. In addition, POP will always seek to advance airline industry best practice in neutralizing its carbon footprint in ways that can be aligned with the enhancement of its community projects.
Rewards-based crowdfunding to raise £5m for POP will start in early June 2016 in association with Trillion Fund Ltd, and will continue for 60 days. The crowdfunding campaign involves raising start-up funds for the company via the pre-sale of POP Gold Passes, each priced at £500, to supporters who are attracted by a different kind of rewards package.
The first 10,000 Gold Pass holders will win one free off-peak return seat to any POP destination and will, for the following five years when flying with POP, be entitled to a range of VIP benefits both on the ground and in the air, including, for example, extra luggage, and free and unlimited ticket name changes.
“My vision is to create an airline that, unlike any other before it, serves not just the passengers travelling between the UK and the developing world but, just as importantly, delivers tangible benefits to the communities they are visiting. POP will provide an ‘Enhanced-Value’ in the air and in the community,” POP chairman and principal (Nino) Navdip Singh Judge said.
POP will offer family and business-convenient schedules, thus reversing the trend of middle-of-the-night international movements into and out of India. In every way, POP wishes to be known for giving a fair deal – with significant reductions in journey times, highly competitive fares, self-selected on-board and ground services, excellent customer service and convenient point-to-point flights.
At present, there are few direct flights from the UK to any of India’s important secondary cities and there is a fast-growing VFR, leisure/tourism and business market for such flights amongst India’s rapidly expanding middle class. POP’s CSR model will resonate particularly strongly with this target market.
The Air Services Agreement (ASA) between the UK and India permits seven scheduled services per week on any route between the UK and India, other than Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. No UK airlines are currently operating non-stop services to Amritsar and/or Ahmedabad.
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 initially plans to operate three services weekly to each of Amritsar and Ahmedabad.
The aircraft will be on a full charter basis and will move towards an ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) arrangement over time, but all other organizational aspects will be managed by POP. The company has provisional plans to apply for its own full Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) but will continue to lease its aircraft, probably on an aircraft-only basis, which should yield greater financial returns to POP and to its supported causes.