Why flypop Has Opted To Fly Older Airbus A330s

UK startup flypop has chosen slightly older Airbus A330ceos to launch its UK to India operations, rather than new and shiny Boeing 787s or longer-range narrowbodies. Speaking at Simple Flying’s Future Flying webinar last week, the airline’s CEO explained the reason behind opting for the ‘tried and tested workhorse’ aircraft. Not surprisingly for a budget carrier hopeful – it all comes down to cost.

Flypop
Startup carrier flypop has chosen Airbus A330ceos to launch its low-cost operations. Image: flypop

Contrary to other low-cost long-haul pretenders such as Norwegian, flypop has opted for slightly older widebody planes. Speaking to Simple Flying’s Joanna Bailey during the third in the Future Flying webinar series last week, flypop’s Chief Executive Nino Judge outlined the reasons behind the choice of A330ceos, as opposed to, say, picking up the abandoned 787 Dreamliners from the above-mentioned red-and-white liveried carrier.

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‘Live and breathe’ low-cost long-haul

The choice of aircraft is part of the airline’s plan to make truly low-cost long-haul operations work. With fares to start as low as £99 ($137) one-way between the UK and secondary cities in India, every step of the price chain needs to be meticulously planned – not least the choice of hardware.

“Everything is cost. If you’re going to be a low-cost, long-haul, everybody says ‘oh, 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,” the flypop CEO stated.

flypop aircraft
flypop is determined to make the low-cost long-haul airline model work. Image: flypop

Simply put, the selected Airbus A330s with their high-density configuration were the best value and most well suited for low-cost operations. Eschewing any narrowbody long-haul experimentation for the ‘tried and tested workhorse’ of the A330, Judge says his airline will be the first to truly embody the low-cost model in the long-haul segment.

Pay-as-you-fly

flypop is leasing its aircraft from Dublin-based lessor Avolon. No details were given as to the number of planes when the leasing agreement was announced in April this year. However, last week, Judge stated that the number one factor for the airline so far had been being able to lock in four aircraft on a Power by the Hour arrangement. This arrangement, the CEO said, would never have been available to a startup pre-COVID.

flypop
The high-density configuration of flypop’s A330s is the best fit for the airline’s operations, its CEO says. Photo: flypop

The airline may not pay for the planes until it uses them. Meanwhile, it does not intend to hold off on getting them into the air until it can more freely transport passengers between its hub at London Stansted and secondary cities in India such as Amritsar. As the airfreight market is still booming due to subdued commercial traffic and lack of belly space, flypop intends to make the most of the wait and deploy its A330s on freight missions.

“The aircraft will be used. We will start doing freight and will be completely ready to go passenger. Really, it’s our choice to do what we want. We have the luxury to wait because we locked all these deals in at the bottom of the market and not at the top of the market. And that is the critical factor in a startup during a pandemic.”

What do you think of flypop’s choice of aircraft? Is a single-type tried-and-tested high-density widebody fleet the so-far missing ingredient to low-cost long-haul? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 

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