According to a report on Simply Flying, UK start-up airline flypop is eagerly planning its launch later this year. With airports and aircraft already in place, the long-distance, low-cost dream is quickly becoming a reality. And boy, are those costs going to be low, with the airline’s CEO Nino Judge promising £99 round-trip tickets between London and his Indian destinations.

Could £99 flights from the UK to India be on the horizon?

Flypop is getting closer to a launch date, with aircraft secured and now an announcement of firm plans with Stansted Airport. Flights are scheduled to begin in October, but the airline’s CEO, Nino Judge, has stated that he will not launch until the time is right. In an exclusive interview with Simple Flying during our recent webinar, he stated,

“We’re very much looking forward to it [our launch] but obviously we can’t hurry it, because the thing that we have in our advantage is, we have this low cash burn rate. The minute we give that up, we’re in the same boat as everyone else.”

Flypop has leased its A330s on a power-by-the-hour basis, so the airline is not losing money even when it is not flying. However, when it does launch, it will face one of the most difficult markets to break into – long-haul, low-cost. In response to a question about how he planned to maintain healthy yields on such services, Judge stated,

“Yields are funny terms, aren’t they? Yields are the difference between CASK [cost per available seat kilometre] and RASK [revenue per available seat kilometre]. So, we want to have our CASK so low that the yield will end up being quite healthy. That is the art of yield management. We are going to start flights at £99 pounds, so if anybody wants to beat us with that, let them try it.”

Air India has already tested the waters on the routes that Flypop intends to serve – Amritsar and Ahmedabad from London. With fares in the region of £600, the airline achieved high load factors on these services. Flypop’s proposal to launch with tickets at a fraction of the cost would almost certainly result in full planes flying, but will it work commercially?

Flying to India for £99 may seem unrealistic, but Judge believes he has the pieces in place to make such low fares a viable option. To begin, he stated that he had secured his aircraft at ridiculously low rates, joking that he had gotten “four for the price of one.”

Flying an all-economy configuration will also help with the cost factor, as will intelligent aircraft utilisation to get the most bang for his buck. The next link in the chain is flying full loads, which is almost a given, even if fares creep up to around the £200 mark – the routes have already proven to be in high demand.

However, to truly succeed, flypop must maintain cost control. And, as Judge explained, this has always been a feature of flypop.

“When you’re going to be long-haul low-cost, and everybody says, ‘it’s not worked, it’s been tried’ – it’s never been tried properly. It’s been flirted with. We are going to live and breathe (and hopefully not die) low-cost, long-haul. Everything is a price saving that we pass on to the customers to achieve that £99.

“We could have gone for a really nice new neo or the 787s that Norwegian didn’t want anymore. You know we could have gone for that kind of stuff, but we went for the best value, slightly older 330s where we could drive the price down. It had a high-density configuration, and that’s how you truly get low cost.”

In addition to choosing the older A33 0s for their low leasing rates and cost-effective configuration, Judge noted that their reliability is higher than that of some of the newer aircraft. He described Airbus as a “workhorse,” saying that it has proven to be up to the task of high utilisation of more than 16 hours per day, which adds to its appeal.

Edited article from  Simple Flying

By Joe Cusmano