Airline Startup Of The Week: The UK’s Hans Airways

A new UK airline is moving closer to launch, with its second funding round completed and its AOC application progressing as planned. Hans Airways wants to begin services in the autumn, flying from the UK to secondary airports in India, using a pair of A330 aircraft and operating on a low-cost model. Sound familiar yet?

Hans Airways
Hans Airways wants to operate low-cost A330 flights to India from the UK. Photo: Hans Airways

Another point to point Indian airline?

It looks like UK startup airline flypop could have some competition, as another British airline is eyeing flights to India, with a start date of around the same time as its competitor. Hans Airways, named after the Sanskrit word for ‘swan’, intends to operate between the UK and India using Airbus A330-300s in a two-class configuration.

But this will not be business and economy class. Rather, the airline is eyeing operations with a high number of premium economy seats, 73 in total, accompanied by 208 economy class seats. This will allow it to operate on a low-cost model, something which is inevitably key for this price sensitive market.

The airline states that it is targeting direct service to underserved routes in India from the UK. Services are slated to launch in around September or October, although the airline still has some regulatory hoops to navigate before launch. The airline applied for its operating license last year, and this week updated ch-aviation on progress saying,

“Our flight operations and safety team is working very closely with the UK CAA on the AOC approval process. All of the required operations manuals have been written and formally submitted to the UK CAA team and we are in the final stages of gaining approval for these documents. Once the manuals have been approved, we will continue to work with the UK CAA and move to the next, and final, phase of the AOC issue process.”

Hans Airways
The A330s will be in two classes – premium economy and economy. Photo: Hans Airways

The airline says that it has already identified two A330 aircraft as being suitable for launch, and that it is in ‘advanced stages’ of negotiations for leasing contracts on these. It has also unveiled ‘HAPEEI’, its in-house loyalty program, which plans to divert money to needy children for educational purposes.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Board appointed

Just days ago, the airline revealed its management board, who between them are noted to have more than 130 years of airline and management experience. Within the team is Ruchir Verna, a financial executive and Barry Humphreys, an ex-BCal manager, Virgin Atlantic Director and Airlines UK advisor. They are joined by Jane Middleton, Chair of Airlines UK, and Peter Malanik, ex-CEO of Austrian Airlines and a lecturer at the UK’s Cranfield University.

Regarding financing for the airline, the latest update signals that the second round of fundraising has been completed. A statement on the airline’s social media page in May noted,

“Hans Airways is pleased to announce the completion of its second round of equity financing, which moves the airline significantly closer to being able to launch routes between the United Kingdom and the Indian sub-continent … Current plans envisage a start date of early autumn 2021, upon completion of regulatory procedures and the opening up of the relevant markets.”

Is there room in the market for two very similar airlines? Photo: flypop

With very similar operating models and target demographics, it begs the question of whether there is room for two airlines in the UK to India market. With established carriers already plying direct routes to some of India’s secondary gateways, it remains to be seen which carrier will get off the ground first and whether the market can sustain them.

Tune in later today to our webinar, to hear from the CEO of flypop directly on his thoughts on the UK to India demand.