Turkmenistan Airlines to resume direct Ashgabat-Amritsar flight from March 7th, 2020
Singapore Air group’s low-cost carrier “Scoot” to increase frequency from 4x to 6x weekly flights
By Sameep Singh Gumtala
The start of summer season is going to bring some good news for Punjabis in the region and abroad. The summer schedule for Amritsar will start early for Sri Guru Ram Das Jee (SGRDJ) International Airport Amritsar. The summer schedule in airline industry starts from March 29.
Turkmenistan Airline is resuming its flights to Ashgabat from March 7th. The airline had suspended the flights to Amritsar in April 2019 due to a ban by European Union on all its flights from its hub in Ashgabat to Europe including London Heathrow (LHR), Birmingham (BHX) and Frankfurt (FRA). Consequently, airline had also suspended its flights to Amritsar as majority of the passengers on its flights to Ashgabat travelled onwards to many of its route destinations in Europe.
Late last year in Oct 2019, airline received clearance from the European Union Safety Agency (EASA) and resumed its flights to Frankfurt and Birmingham. It is one of the longest serving airline serving Amritsar airport, has been operating flights since 2001.
According to the new schedule available on its website, the airline will operate flights to Amritsar on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and conveniently connect passengers to its destinations in Europe including Birmingham. In addition to Air India, Qatar, passengers for Birmingham will now have an addition option.
Singapore Airlines group’s low-cost carrier Scoot will also increase frequency of its Singapore-Amritsar flight from 4x to 6x weekly from March 8 till end of March and then again from May 1st till end of August 2020. The said airline operates a 335 or 375-seater Boeing 787-8/787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on this route. It connects passengers to many South East Asian destination countries including Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
On the other hand, airlines from Malaysia viz. Air Asia X and Malindo Air along with Scoot have been getting good response from Punjabis in Australia as they provide convenient connections via their hub in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively to onward destinations Australia in Australia including Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Adelaide. Journey to many of these destinations can be completed in less than 17 hours. Recently, there has been a big surge in traffic to Australia from Amritsar on these flights. This is partly due to the cancellation of different Chinese airline carriers’ flights from Delhi. Many Punjabis still travel on these airlines from Delhi.
Air India is also continuing its 3x weekly Amritsar-London Stansted flight started on the occasion of 550 years of Guru Nanak Gurpurab celebrations on October 31 last year. The analysis of passenger data shared by the UK Civil Aviation Authority shows good occupancy on these flights. The airline will also keep the direct 3x weekly Amritsar-Birmingham flight.
With the start of these new flights, Amritsar will be directly connected to nine international destinations – London, Birmingham, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Sharjah, Doha, Tashkent and Ashgabat. There are also direct flights to nine domestic destinations – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Patna, Ahmedabad, Nanded, Jaipur and Srinagar from the city. Even many Punjabis travelling to Punjab for holidays from abroad can now take advantage of many direct flights from Amritsar.
It is important for the State government to look into providing public transport facility to the Airport from various cities of Punjab. Keeping in view of the geographic location, it also caters to passengers from Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir. The Government authorities also need to boost export of both perishable and dry cargo from the region directly to International destinations by providing training to farmers, businesses and traders in the region.
Sameep Singh Gumtala, is Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative, a public campaign for better flight connectivity with the Holy city of Amritsar. He is a US resident, regularly writes about Punjab, its diaspora and connectivity of Amritsar, Punjab with the World.