flyPOP (London Stansted) is planning to launch low-cost long-haul services between the United Kingdom and India later this year but has not yet decided whether to begin as a virtual carrier in July or await full certification and commence flights around October, founder Nino Singh Judge told the Financial Mail on Sunday.

"As soon as restrictions are lifted, there is an opportunity to go. Right now my cash burn is so minimal I can time my launch exactly when the demand is there and when I can fill my planes," Judge said.

Initially, flyPOP will operate just two routes from an as-of-yet undisclosed airport in the United Kingdom to Amritsar and Ahmedabad, with more Indian cities to be added to the network in later stages, including Kolkata, Goa Dabolim, and Pune. Judge said the start-up was negotiating with London Stansted, Birmingham, GB, Nottingham East Midlands, and London Gatwick, but ruled out London Heathrow due to its steep charges.

flyPOP plans to launch with two aircraft and add one more every six months. Although its renderings feature A330-300 aircraft, it has yet to formally confirm its fleet plans. It is currently in talks with both Airbus and Boeing about the lease of ten widebody aircraft in the first stage.

flyPOP has been trying to raise capital since 2014. Its preparations accelerated last year after it secured a GBP5 million pound (USD6.9 million) convertible loan from the UK's Future Fund. Previously, Indian investors injected GBP7 million (USD9.6 million) into flyPOP.

Judge underlined that the raised funds will stretch much further in the post-COVID environment, mostly due to much lower lease rates. Going forward, he hopes to list the carrier on the London Stock Exchange in 2022.

In its medium-to-long-term plans, flyPOP intends to expand beyond its core UK-India market with services to North America, the Caribbean, and Africa. South-East Asia is also on the start-up's radar, Judge added.