Back story

Read a little about POP's back story, which has over 15 years in the making!

Nino at Southampton University, 1987

The dream at the heart of this airline belongs to Nino Judge, a British Indian whose family has links not only to Punjab in India but also to Tanzania in East Africa where Nino grew up.

Nino has been aware of the need for direct flights between the UK and India for many years – especially when, in the early 2000s, in the dead of night at London Heathrow, he saw fellow Sikhs arriving from Amritsar exhausted after a 17-hour flight and long transfer via Moscow!

At around the same time Nino was affected by the tragedy of the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11 as some of his work colleagues lost their lives. Ever since to this day, their finance firm has hosted charity days on 11 September where all the day’s profits are donated to charity. From this point on, Nino was committed to combining business and his philanthropic tendencies to create an airline that would give back to the communities it served – not just on one day, but every day.

In 2003, Nino first explored the idea of an airline to serve India’s second cities with his close friend and academic researcher Dr Cristiano Ratti. (Nino and Cris had met at Southampton University in 1985.) However, at that time it was not possible to obtain the desired flight slots at Heathrow or even to gain permission to fly to India’s second cities as these routes were not part of the air agreements between the two countries.

Fast-forward more than a decade and the changing social, economic and political conditions allowed for the project to be revived. The air agreements between the UK and India now allowed a certain number of flights per week to India’s second cities; and India had already spent a much money, time and effort revamping the airports at Amritsar and Ahmedabad to modern standards. India had also become an economic power on the world stage.

Nino and Cris joined forces with Graham Howat – a friend of Nino’s and career aviation veteran with a strong engineering and management background, who drew on his considerable experience and extensive contact base to gather relevant industry knowledge in all aspects of creating and operating a world-class airline – and Bobby Bhaker, a finance colleague of Nino's, to become the four founder members of POP. They were soon joined by Gary Stephenson (ICT) and Dr Mandy Sharpley (CSR). The project team members have all worked many long hours pro bono to make POP a reality.

Our POP family comprises a group of individuals from a variety of different backgrounds with a wealth of divergent experience between them. We think difference is good – it can combine to create new and innovative ways of creating a viable business and doing good for the community. Finally, the team is ready to launch the airline and put 'People Over Profit' – POP!

Nino at Southampton University, 1987

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