The huge demand for more flights between India – UK has led Air India to resume its direct Amritsar – Birmingham direct flight from September 3 onwards. Earlier in the month, UK moved India from red to amber list that relaxed restrictions on passengers arriving from India.
The Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative Sameep Singh Gumtala informed that as per the latest update on Air India’s website, Air India flight AI117 will take off from Amritsar every Friday at 3:00pm arriving Birmingham on same day at 5:20pm. The return flight AI118 will then depart from Birmingham next day on Saturday at 7:30pm and reach Amritsar on Sunday morning at 7:35am. Air India will use its Boeing 787 Dreamline on this route.
Gumtala shared that Air India on August 16, also resumed its one-weekly direct flight to London Heathrow from Amritsar. This direct connectivity with UK has once again started the perishable cargo movement from the Airport. According to the tweet by Airport, 6270 kgs of perishable cargo (baby corn and mango pickle) was exported on the first flight to Heathrow on August 17 and 9133 kgs on August 24 flight that also included sporting goods.
Welcoming the connectivity with both London and Birmingham, the Secretary of Amritsar Vikas Manch (NGO), Yogesh Karma said that the popularity and resumption of these flights also provides opportunity for export to farmers and businessmen alike.
Kamra said, Punjab’s hinterland connection to Midlands is decade old demand and our national carrier Air India has fulfilled it. In year 2018, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha and then the new Minster of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri, both gave this flight it’s due importance and directed Air India officials to resume service on this Sector on priority.
Kamra, who is also a member of Airport Advisory Committee (AAC) said, Air India’s recent start of flight to London Heathrow had got a phenomenal response both from passenger and cargo perspective. There is a latent and urgent need to export cargo out of Amritsar airport and appeals to the State Government especially Invest Punjab to give Amritsar Airport its due, said Kamra
Kamra added that more than 1 million Punjabis reside in the UK and flights to London Heathrow and Birmingham should be each at least 3 times per week. London Heathrow being one of the biggest onward connection hubs can enable passengers from Punjab to travel onwards to Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, destinations in Europe and up to South America through Air India’s affiliated Start Alliance network.
The AVM has been spearheading campaign for Birmingham flight including filing of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Punjab & Haryana High Court in January 2017. It is to be noted that based on the hearing of PIL by AVM, the Hon’ble High Court asked Air India to explain and produce relevant record pertaining to circumstances under which it changed the route of Amritsar – Birmingham flight and directed them to provide data of top loss-making routes back then.
Councillor Charan Kanwal Singh Sekhon, Chairman of SEVA Trust UK that have been jointly campaigning with AVM for the direct flights to UK also expressed happiness at the resumption of flight to Birmingham. This will shorten the travel time for thousands of Punjabis in cities around Birmingham as earlier the only option for them was to travel to London Heathrow from Delhi.