Flight to benefit thousands of Punjabis working in Sharjah and neighboring Emirates
By: Sameep Singh Gumtala
October 1, 2019: Sri Guru Ram Das Jee (SGRDJ) International Airport Amritsar will get its second International flight to a destination in the UAE from October 1 this year. Indigo announced a daily flight on the Amritsar-Sharjah route and its booking is available on its website.
India’s low-cost carrier Indigo will be first airline after a gap of almost 5 years to provide direct connectivity between the holy city and Sharjah in UAE. Air India had earlier operated the flight on this route. According to the schedule on its website, the flight will leave from Amritsar at 11:35 am and reach Sharjah at 1:35 pm (local time). The return flight will depart from Sharjah airport at 2:35pm (local time) and arrive in Amritsar at 7:40pm.
In October 2018, Indigo launched a daily flight between Amritsar and Dubai. From September 1 this year, airline suspended its Dubai flight. Sharjah is going to be 8th International destination from Amritsar. Holy city is also connected via direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Doha, Birmingham and Tashkent. Flights to Ashgabat by Turkmenistan airlines are still suspended due to the ban on airline to fly to Europe.
The start of this flight will benefit Punjabis working in Sharjah and neighboring Emirates (States) of Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah. It was a long pending demand by them. This direct flight will save them time and cost as currently in addition to expenses for travel by road from Dubai, they spend 30 dirham every time they crossed from Dubai into Sharjah.
SpiceJet and Air India Express are successfully running their flights to Dubai from Amritsar for the past few years. In 2018, Amritsar-Dubai route had the highest number of passengers among all direct flights from Amritsar to international destinations. A total of 2.68 lakh passengers out of 7.99 lakh traveled on direct flights between on this route.
All the three Indian carriers operating daily flights to Dubai and Sharjah currently has no code share partnerships with any foreign airline operating from these airports and hence, do not connect its passengers to other international destinations. Many in the diaspora still travel on these flights to Dubai on separate reservation and then travel on Emirates to fly to Europe and North America. In March, Spicejet signed code-share agreement with Emirates to connect its passengers from Amritsar on airline destinations via Dubai. Since then, there is no update by both the carriers on when it is going to come into effect.
Meanwhile, large number of Punjabis who have gone to work and also living permanently in Abu Dhabi for the past many years has also demanded a direct flight to Amritsar. A big population of Punjabis working in Abu Dhabi. FlyAmritsar Initiative has reached out to the airlines in India with detailed data and statistics to start the flight
Both Emirates and its partner Fly Dubai, also wants to start flights to Amritsar, that will enable connections to more than 140 of its destinations worldwide. But the bilateral air service agreements between the two countries do not allow UAE carriers to fly to Amritsar. Indian civil aviation ministry has made it clear that they are not currently giving permission to UAE carriers to any new destinations in India.