Airline CEO: What’s The Story Behind The Name flypop?

UK startup airline flypop is set to take to the skies from October. While the fun, bubbly graphic and name set a tone of playful frivolity, the meaning behind that branding runs much deeper. Simple Flying caught up with CEO Nino Singh Judge to get the inside story on the name, brand positioning, and the airline’s ambitions for the future.

flypop’s branding is about more than just a fun name. Photo: flypop

What’s in a name?

Some airline names are fairly straightforward: British Airways, Air India, American Airlines – it does what it says on the tin. But younger airlines like to get creative with their nomenclature; just this year, we’ve seen PLAY, Breeze, Flyr and more. Now, there’s another new entrant with an equally interesting name – flypop.

Fans of the UK version of the popular reality show The Apprentice may remember a certain team being berated for branding their fictitious airline ‘Jet Pop.’ Fellow candidates (and Sir Alan Sugar) believed it brought to mind exploding aircraft – not a good look for an airline!

Thankfully for flypop, its branding is clearly inspired. The friendly, bubbly graphics give it an air of fun and lightness, but the story goes deeper than that. Speaking to Simple Flying, CEO Nino Singh Judge explained where the name had come from,

“It’s named after my father – Pops – who inspired the airline. He unfortunately passed away from COVID last year, so I have to make this work in his name. But also, ‘pop’ is ‘planet over profit’, and it’s putting society over profit.”

Flypop planet over profit
Graphic: flypop

While part of the flypop ethos is about making it more affordable for the large Indian diaspora to visit their friends and family, it’s also about doing the right thing for the planet. Flypop believes in growing sustainably, and its CEO states that this will be at the heart of everything it does:

“I feel the aviation market in the future has to really be on the front foot of sustainability. Because the flight shaming accusations and sustainability are not going away. So, I think we have to face it head on. Aviation is a wonderful venture connecting people from all over the world – the diaspora that’s been spread apart. But if you can do that in a sustainable way, nobody needs to feel guilty about flying long-haul.”

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flypop 99 fares
Judge believes he can make long-haul flying more affordable and more ethical. Photo: flypop

Making long-haul sustainable

Judge understands that it’s not only pressure from the regulatory side that will influence the future of aviation. Indeed, people’s own moral compass will cause them to question whether it’s ethical to be flying for several hours in the midst of a climate crisis. But Judge believes his model allows him to put the minds of his passengers at rest. He said,

“Because you’re in a high-density aircraft, you have the lowest footprint. And we will plant one tree for every return passenger. So, you can sit there and relax.”

Planting a tree for every return passenger is quite the commitment. While we don’t know how many all-economy seats flypop is anticipating, airlines like Cebu Pacific squeeze as many as 436 seats on their A330-300s. A more average number is around 350, and flypop will likely fall somewhere in between the two.

We’ll have to wait and see how many seats are on flypop’s A330s. Photo: flypop

Nevertheless, it’s a lot of trees for each flight, even with less than amazing load factors. But Judge believes it’s worth it, and says that, on a flight of less than 10 hours, passengers will actually be traveling carbon negative. He said,

“The statistics are, for a 10-hour return flight it’s one tonne of carbon dioxide. A mangrove or a pine tree takes in one tonne of carbon dioxide over 20 years. So, if the flights are shorter than 10 hours return, you’re actually going to be carbon negative. How amazing would that be, being able to fly to India carbon negative?”

Of course, tree planting takes time to affect the environment, and Judge isn’t writing off other options. While he doesn’t believe that hydrogen or electric propulsion are going to be a reality for long-haul flights, he’s keenly interested in SAF, as he explained,

“Going forward, I am totally up for increasing our sustainable fuel percentage, as long as everyone does it together. So, if IATA or anybody wants to bring that in, we will be totally subscribing to that. Long Haul electric or hydrogen just isn’t going to work. But I think, long term, sustainable fuel for long haul will work.”

Does flypop’s planet over profit mentality is refreshing? Let us know in the comments.