Read a little about POP's back story, which has over 15 years in the making!
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 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. Since then, Nino’s work 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, 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 to 2012 and the project was 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.
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. Together the three became the original founders of POP.
In short, in 2013, Gary Stephenson (IT) and, in 2014, Mandy Sharpley (Corporate Social Responsibility) came on board; and more recently the team was joined by Bobby Bhakar (Sales). The project team members have all worked ‘pro bono’, in some cases for three to four years, to make POP a reality.
This 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!