By , Published on June 13th, 2024 in News

By: Sameep Singh Gumtala

It was another significant and historic day on June 12, 2024 for Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport Amritsar, with Malaysia Airlines operating its wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft on its Kuala Lumpur – Amritsar route. The overwhelming response to its flights has led the airline to deploy its wide-body aircraft for the month of June. This positive change is driven by the dedication and unwavering support of Punjabis and the global Punjabi diaspora, thanks to the tireless efforts of the FlyAmritsar Initiative.     

Successful Launch and Expansion of the Route

The route was launched by Malaysia Airlines in November 2023 with Boeing 737 single-aisle aircraft with 174 seats. Due to the strong demand, the airline doubled its frequency from two to four times weekly in January 2024. Starting August 1, the airline will increase the frequency to daily flights.

The success of this route proves that Punjabis and its diaspora, if given the options, prefer to fly directly to Amritsar instead of Delhi. Passengers flying via Delhi to Amritsar need to go through immigration, pick up and check in luggage again, and then wait for long hours at the Delhi airport to fly to Amritsar.

Source: flightradar24

Advocacy and Future Prospects

The FlyAmritsar Initiative volunteers, including myself and Yogesh Kamra, Convener India have been in constant communication with the airline, advocating for the continued operation of this wide-body aircraft in the future. The airline executives in discussions indicated that if passenger response remains strong and the aircraft is fully booked, they will consider using it during the winter season as well, though this will also depend on the availability of larger aircraft.

Increased Connectivity and Capacity

Amritsar enjoys services from two other Malaysian airlines as well, including, Air Asia X, with four weekly flights and Batik Air with three weekly flights. This highlights the increasing connectivity between these regions, bringing the total monthly seat capacity between Amritsar and Kuala Lumpur to approximate 26000 seats. Furthermore, Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, operates five weekly flights to Singapore, fostering connections to Australia and various other countries, totaling approximate 13,400 seats per month.

Connectivity with Southeast Asian Countries via Malaysia & Singapore (Map:

Untapped Potential by Indian Airlines

It remains to be seen that when airlines from India, including Air India and Indigo, will fully realize the real potential of traffic from Amritsar Airport to a few destinations around the World with large population of Punjabis, including Singapore, Malaysia, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.  

Bilateral Air Service Agreements and Their Impact

Airlines from Malaysia and Singapore are able to start fights to Amritsar as ASEAN countries, including Thailand and Vietnam have been granted bilateral air service agreements by India for operating unlimiting flights to 18 airports in India, including Amritsar. These airlines cater to not only point-to-point traffic but also provides seamless one-stop connectivity to many cities in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.

However, it’s important to note that apart from Qatar, no airline from the Gulf or Middle-East countries is currently allowed to fly to Amritsar, as the city’s airport is not included in the bilateral air service agreements with these countries.

Challenges and Advocacy for Expansion

FlyAmritsar Initiative frequently receives messages from Punjabis urging the initiative members including myself to reach out to airlines, including Emirates and Etihad. These airlines have expressed their interest in expanding the bilateral agreements with India to include Amritsar, but the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India has yet to include Amritsar and many other airports in India. Many airline carriers in India are also opposed to this as it effects their business. Until these air agreements are renegotiated, such flights cannot commence. However, Indian airlines are free to start flights from Amritsar to any country.

Call to Action

The FlyAmritsar Initiative encourages everyone to prioritize and prefer flying to Amritsar. Increased flights and passenger traffic will compel the Airport Authority of India to enhance the facilities at Amritsar Airport. We invite everyone to join the FlyAmritsar Initiative Facebook group, follow on Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on YouTube.

About the Author

Sameep Singh Gumtala is Global Convener of the FlyAmritsar Initiative, a global advocacy group dedicated to promoting and enhancing connectivity at Amritsar Airport. The Initiative has been advocating for increased flight services to Amritsar, recognizing the city’s importance as a cultural and commercial hub.

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