Sikh and Punjab diaspora has welcomed the start of direct London to Amritsar flight by Air India to facilitate International travel to Amritsar, Punjab for 550 years of Guru Nanak Gurpurab celebrations.In a joint press release CharanKanwal Singh Sekhon, Chairman of SEVA Trust UK, an international NGO working in UK and Sameep Singh Gumtala, Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative and Overseas Secretary of Amritsar Vikas Manch thanked Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puriand Air India CMD Ashwani Lohanifor the start of this flight ahead of the historic Gurpurab celebrations.Gumtala traveled from the US to Amritsar specially to fly on the historic first flight from Amritsar to London. Passengers were given a warm welcome at Stanstead airport by Air India and airport staffincluding a souvenir for every passenger.Sekhon flew on the first flight from London to Amritsar. Speaking on this historic occasion at London, they said, “SEVA Trust UK and AVM joined hands in 2017 and both NGOs worked jointly and tirelessly on this issue.For the past more than one year, due to the huge demand, we have been campaigning hard for direct flight along with MPs in UK, British councilors and Mayors.Welcoming the resumption of direct flights, Sekhon said, “We have been writing to the PM of India, Narendra Modi, Aviation Ministry, Air India and several other airlines. London is a world travel hub and with the start of new flights passengers can go direct to Amritsar saving up to 15 hours of their time going via Delhi.Start of the new flights from London also opens the door for more tourism, trade, economic growth as well as huge benefit for all travelling passengers for direct air connectivity with Amritsar.” We will continue to campaign for more flights from London Heathrow to Amritsar, said Sekhon.
Gumtala said that after a gap of 9 years, Amritsar is now connected with direct non-stop connectivity to an airport in London.Air India operated its direct Amritsar-London-Toronto flight from October 2008 to October 2010 that not only benefitted passengers to London but also for Canada and USA. Passengers travelling to Toronto were able to connect on Air Canada and other airlines flights to Vancouver and many cities in the USA. Amritsar will be the hub for celebrations all year long with lakhs of devotees from abroad including UK and India already planning to visit Dera Baba Nanak and also to Kartarpur in Pakistan after the opening of corridor.We welcome the decision by government and request the airline to consider flying to Heathrow in near future, said Gumtala.FlyAmritsar Convener in North America Anantdeep Singh Dhillon, residentof Canada welcoming the launch of this new route demanded that a direct flight to Heathrow would have benefitted travelers toToronto and Vancouver as Air India codeshares with Air Canada on flights from London to Toronto and Vancouver with a short layover at Heathrow. Requesting direct connectivity of Toronto & Vancouver with Amritsar ahead of the historic Gurpurab, Dhillon urged Air India to operate its direct Delhi-Toronto flight via Amritsar similar to its Delhi-Amritsar-Birmingham flight. Majority of the passengers on these flights are from Punjab.Start of these flights will facilitate more than half a million Punjabi Diaspora in Toronto to travel to Amritsar for the 550th year celebrations. We realize flights cannot start without commercial consideration, however Amritsar-Toronto flight in the past via Birmingham was a profitable route. Air India will be competing with Canadian carrier that may also result in adding to losses of Air India, said Dhillon.