In a big relief for the Punjabi diaspora, Air India has announced resumption of its direct flight services from Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport Amritsar to London Heathrow in the UK starting from August 16. The Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative and Overseas Secretary of Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) Sameep Singh Gumtala informed that as per the latest update by Air India on its website and social media, Air India will resume its once weekly, London Heathrow – Amritsar direct flights. The move was taken after the UK Government’s decision to relax restrictions by moving India from its Red to Amber list.
According to the schedule, Air India flight AI170 will depart from London every Monday at 12:30pm arriving Amritsar next day midnight on Tuesday at 1:10am. The same aircraft AI169 will depart Amritsar every Tuesday early morning at 3:10am, arriving in London at 7:30am. The airline will operate a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft on this route. Booking of these direct flights is available till end of October (end of summer schedule of airlines) and can be done through the airline website, booking offices and authorized travel agents.
Welcoming the resumption of direct fight, Gumtala said, “This will bring a big respite to thousands of expats stranded due to Covid restrictions. They will be able to proceed to their destinations in Punjab, India and the UK. We hope that the national carrier will also resume its direct Amritsar-Birmingham flight as the restrictions are eased and situation improves in both the countries.
While the international traffic demand is recovering amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the resumption of these flights will help fliers between Punjab and the UK to travel conveniently in just 8 hours instead of the connecting flights via Delhi, said Charan Kanwal Singh Sekhon, chairman of the UK based charity SEVA Trust UK. Amritsar Vikas Manch and SEVA Trust UK have been jointly campaigning for the direct London Heathrow to Amritsar route since 2018. We are thankful to Air India, Government of India for this direct flight that will also benefit the industry and farmers from the region, as they will now be able to ship cargo from Amritsar, said Sekhon.
After a severe outbreak in UK last December, India limited the flights between both the countries. Due to this, Air India suspended the direct flights from Amritsar to London & Birmingham. Earlier this year on April 23rd, UK had placed India on its red list during the second COVID wave here due to which Indian citizens were not allowed to enter Great Britain.