Diaspora welcomes new flights connecting Canada & USA with Amritsar
March 2, 2023: Punjabi diaspora in North America have a reason to rejoice with the Italian airline Neos Air commencing flights connecting Amritsar with Toronto in Canada and New York in USA via its hub at Milan Malpensa Airport starting 6th April 2023. Sharing the news from USA Sameep Singh Gumtala, Global Convener of the FlyAmritsar Initiative, an advocacy group pushing for direct flights to Amritsar welcomed the launch of this new one-stop seamless connectivity between Toronto – Amritsar via Milan, that will also link Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar with New York as well.
Gumtala stated, Neos Air commenced scheduled services between Milan Malpensa and Amritsar in mid-December 2022. The airline first started operations to Amritsar during the pandemic with charter services between Italy and Amritsar in September 2021. The operation of charter flights by Indian carrier Spicejet from Amritsar to Milan Bergamo and Rome during Covid times resulted in the Indian carrier being allowed to start scheduled flights to both airports in Italy in November last year. With both the Indian and Italian air-carriers operating direct flights, Amritsar is only airport in India that is now connected with 3 airports in Italy.
According to the booking schedule for the new flight, made available by Neos on its website, the airline will operate one-weekly flight from April 6th onwards to both Toronto and New York. Flight NO3249 will depart Amritsar every Thursday at 3:15am in the morning reaching Milan Malpensa airport at 8:20am same day. With a transit time layover of about 4hr 10m, flight NO4348 will depart Milan at 12:30pm reaching Toronto late afternoon at 3pm.
Neos flight NO4349 will take-off from Toronto Pearson Airport every Thursday at 5pm in the evening landing Milan next day in the morning on Friday at 6:50am. From Milan, flight NO5248 will then depart at 10am in the morning reaching Amritsar same day on Friday night at 9:15pm. This enables short transit time of 3hr 10m through Milan. The journey from Toronto to Amritsar will be completed in 18hr 45m, and Amritsar to Toronto in 21hr 15m. The airline will be operating its wide-bodied Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 359 seats on these routes.
Jalandhar based Ghai travel is the general sales agent (GSA) for the airline in India and Canada. Talking on phone, Gumtala thanked the company director Bharat Ghai who has a major contribution in start of this route by Neos Air. Gumtala shared the information that according to Ghai, it is expected that the airline will increase its frequency in few months, based upon a good response from travelers.
It may be recalled that in January 2022 a parliamentary petition was introduced in House of Commons by the Initiative’s Co-convener Mohit Dhanju, who is based in Surrey BC. This petition was signed by over 19000 Canadians in a month’s time. This was sponsored and presented by MP Brad Vis raising the demand in the Canadian Parliament. The Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra later spoke about the issue with visiting Indian Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in May 2022. The commencement of this new route via Italy will bring about solid evidentiary basis for other airlines about the potential of direct flights between Canada & Amritsar, said Gumtala.
In joint statement from Vancouver and Amritsar, Anantdeep Singh Dhillon- Overseas Secretary for Amritsar Vikas Manch (NGO) in Canada, along with Manch Patron Manmohan Singh Brar from Amritsar have said that every year new immigrants, thousands of students from Punjab move to Canada for higher studies, while at the same time thousands of immigrants settled in Canada visit Punjab every year. The current options available first fly them to Delhi, and then have to take onward connecting flights or travel by road & rail to Punjab from Delhi. Even with the operation of direct Delhi-Toronto flights by Air India and Air Canada, passengers have been facing a lot of inconvenience of traveling via Delhi that includes time taken for immigration, long layovers and rechecking of their luggage. Even though this one-stop flight does not fulfil the long-pending demand of direct non-stop flights from Toronto and Vancouver to Amritsar, it will still become a lot easier for thousands to visit Punjab.
Currently, Qatar airways is the only option available from Amritsar to fly to Montreal airport in Canada and 11 other airports in USA including New York via its hub in Doha, thus avoid flying from Delhi airport. This new connectivity by Neos Air to Toronto will bring big relief for the diaspora.
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