Punjabi Diaspora welcomes decision and urges for permanent Heathrow flights in future
The Punjabi diaspora has welcomed the addition of special direct flights by National Carrier Air India between Amritsar and London Heathrow airport under phase-5 and 6 of the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM). Air India has been operating special flights across the globe due to the closedown of borders under this mission.
The Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative & Overseas Secretary of Amritsar Vikas Manch, Sameep Singh Gumtala informed that as per the new schedule released by Air India on its official website, it has added once a week direct flight between Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport Amritsar and London Heathrow Airport from August 24 onwards till the end of September. On remaining days passengers can fly between London-Amritsar on connecting feeder flights via Delhi.
The flight will depart from London Heathrow on Monday morning 9:15am arriving Amritsar close to midnight at 10:25pm. It will depart Amritsar Tuesday afternoon at 2:40pm, arriving in London at 7pm. Booking of these flights has already started, and can be done through the airline website, booking offices and authorized travel agent.
Welcoming the addition of special direct flights from London Heathrow instead of the earlier feeder flights operated via Delhi, Gumtala said, “this will save many hours of time for the people to reach Punjab. We are thankful to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Air India and request them to continue to operate the flights to Heathrow after resumption of regular international commercial flights to India. We also urge the ministry to add special direct flights from Amritsar to Birmingham.”
His views were echoed by Manmohan Singh Brar, President of NGO Amritsar Vikas Manch, the civil-society non-governmental organization working for the development of Amritsar and Charan Kanwal Singh Sekhon, chairman of charity SEVA Trust UK. Both the organizations have jointly campaigned for the London Heathrow to Amritsar route since 2018.
The demand of diaspora was partially met in November 2019 with the start of thrice weekly direct Amritsar-London Stansted airport flights to coincide with Guru Nanak 550th birth anniversary celebrations. But they continue to lobby for direct flights between Amritsar and Heathrow Airport.
We are grateful to Air India and government of India for having adding these special flights. It’s been long standing issue for the Indian & Punjabi diaspora. A direct flight on Heathrow-Amritsar route in future would be really successful. Not only it will attract large number of Punjabi travelers coming from Canada, USA & Europe due to better connections at Heathrow than Stansted, this will also attract business class travelers as the majority of Punjabi business community live close to Heathrow than Stansted airport, said Sekhon.
AVM president Manmohan Singh said, “The importance and real potential of Amritsar for major destinations such as London, Toronto and Vancouver have been proven recently during complete lockdown i
n India. British government arranged a total of 28 direct flights from Amritsar to Heathrow airport. These flights operated by British and Qatar airways from April till mid-May flew around 8,300 Britons back home. During the same time, Amritsar also handled maximum number of 25 repatriation flights operated by Canadian government evacuating around 7500 Canadians.”