By: Sameep Singh Gumtala
Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport Amritsar has recorded a 29.1 percent rise in passenger footfall in August as compared to July.
According to the passenger numbers posted by Airport Authority of India in a tweet, the biggest rise of 41.3 percent is recorded in the footfall of domestic passenger.
With the government relaxing flying norms, the number of domestic passengers increased to 31,652 in August from 22,389 in July.
The number of domestic aircraft moments also increased from 266 in July to 376 in August. The total number international aircraft moments increased from 58 in July to 83 in August but the total number of passengers increased only by a small number from 9837 in July to 9956 in August.
Potential for more International flights during Pandemic
During this pandemic, when people are travelling less, there is still potential for more international flights from the Airport. The number of international passengers will increase in coming months as Air India added once a week direct flight to London Heathrow and Birmingham airports in the UK. Other Indian airline carriers including Indigo, Spicejet and Air India Express also added flights to the UAE including Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Air India Express is also operating flights from Kuwait to Amritsar on some days.
Air India connects Heathrow with Amritsar after 10 years
After almost 10 years on August 25th, the national carrier Air India operated its first direct flight between London Heathrow and Amritsar. This is a very welcome decision by Air India and Ministry of Civil Aviation for continuing these special flights under Vande Bharat Mission till 24th October. It is likely that they will continue it till the end of year. There is strong demand to increase the frequency of these flights and also make them permanent for future.
Foreign carriers flying first time to Amritsar
During the month of August, airlines from UAE (Fly Dubai, Air Arabia) and Kuwait (Jazeera) also operated special flights to Amritsar under the temporary air bubble agreements. These airlines from UAE did not get permission to fly from September onwards to Amritsar. Many middle eastern carriers are willing to operate to Amritsar but unable to do as Amritsar Airport is not included in the bilateral air agreements with India.
Demand for connectivity with Toronto and Vancouver in Canada
Punjabis are disappointed that despite handling the maximum number of 25 special repatriation flights by the Canadian foreign office that flew 7500 Canadians home during complete lockdown in April-May, Air India under the current Vande Bharat Mission released for flights till 24th October, it is not operating any direct flights to Amritsar from Toronto or Vancouver in Canada.
Air India is operating direct flights from Delhi to Toronto and Vancouver. There is big demand from the Punjabis to add special direct flights under the Mission from Amritsar to Toronto and Vancouver in the future.
The popularity, demand and viability of international flights to Canada and Europe can also be seen from the operation of many private charter flights from the airport, including the ones operated by Spicejet on September 9 and 12 that flew 612 passengers to Toronto.
Indigo also operated special charter flights to Milan and Rome with a technical refueling stop at Baku in Azerbaijan.