People Over Profit's non-stop services to the Indian cities of Amritsar and Ahmedabad will be operated by a wet-leased A330-300. [Photo: People Over Profit]
Start-up carrier People Over Profit (POP) this week launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise up to £5 million ($7.3 million) to start its planned nonstop services from London Stansted Airport to the Indian cities of Amritsar and Ahmedabad. Subject to permits being granted by Indian authorities, the flights are due to start some time after November and will use a 378-seat Airbus A330-300 operated under a wet lease by an undisclosed UK charter carrier.
According to POP chairman Navdip Singh Judge, POP intends to add a second A330 within three months of launch. Initially it will fly three weekly roundtrips each to Amritsar (in the northwestern state of Punjab) and Ahmedabad (in the western state of Gujarat). Its Stansted-based wet-lease provider is committed to providing back-up aircraft in the event that the first A330 has technical issues. The wet lease is on ACMI terms, covering the aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance.
Future plans call for additional services from London to New York (Newark International Airport) and also to Toronto, Canada—both areas that, like the UK, have larger Indian populations. The Indian cities of Goa and Calcutta are also in POP’s sights, and it intends to forge a codeshare partnership with an undisclosed Stansted-based low-cost carrier that could provide connections within Europe.
POP has already secured around £5 million ($7.3 million) in launch capital from private backers who have opted to defer any dividends in support of the airline’s declared policy of donating at least 51 percent of its profits to charities in the UKand India. The crowdfunding efforts, which are being led by the Trillion Fund over the next 60 days, will offer the first 10,000 individual backers investing £500 ($730) a Gold Pass that allows them one free off-peak round-trip to India. Gold Pass holders will also enjoy benefits such as free additional baggage allowances and booking flexibility.
Judge indicated that POP’s most immediate obstacle is securing operational approvals from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which he said has agreed in principle to grant permission once the new carrier has cleared the approval process of UK authorities. No other airline currently offers nonstop services to Amritsar and Ahmedabad, and POP says it intends to offer fares that match those of rivals offering more time-consuming connecting services. In-flight services such as meals and Wi-Fi connection will be paid for separately.