Amritsar, October 25, 2021 (Yes Punjab News)
The FlyAmritsar Initiative has asked Air India to continue its direct flights from Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport Amritsar to Nanded and Rome in Italy from October 31 onwards. In a statement issued to the press, the Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative Sameep Singh Gumtala drew the attention of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee President Bibi Jagir Kaur and urged them to approach Prime Minister of India Sh. Narendra Modi and Minister of Civil Aviation, Sh. Jyotiraditya Scindia on this issue.
Gumtala said that in a major setback to the international and domestic connectivity of Airport, the national carrier Air India, just before being privatized has suspended bookings for its very popular Nanded – Amritsar direct flight which connected the two important Sikh Temporal seats Sri Akal Takht Sahib and Takht Sri Hazur Abchal Nagar Sahib – Nanded. Not only this, once-weekly Delhi-Amritsar-Rome flight booking is not available and removed from the schedule released on Air India website during the winter schedule that starts from October 29th and runs till March 26th, 2022.
Gumtala informed that the unavailability of these flights for bookings in winter schedule indicates that Air India has either suspended these routes or pulling the plug altogether. The airline is currently operating the Nanded flight on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with the aircraft taking off from Delhi in the early morning hours for Amritsar and then departs for Nanded at 6:50am. Nanded is also an important pilgrimage destination for the Sikh community. With the direct flights, they are able to complete this journey in just two-and-half hours but now suspension of this flight will cause grave inconvenience to the devotees, said Gumtala.
Gumtala added, “the direct flight between Amritsar – Nanded has been in operation for more than three years and fulfilled the long-standing demand of pilgrims, non-resident Indians and tourists from Europe, USA, UK, Canada, Gulf countries and the business community from Punjab and even neighboring states including Rajasthan, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
The airline resumed the flight on August 3 earlier this year after temporary hiatus owing to the corona pandemic. Even during pandemic time this flight is very popular among devotees. With the upcoming winter season, when thousands of Punjabi NRIs spend winter time in Punjab, the cancellation of this route is very disappointing for them.
Gumtala added that the airport is also losing direct international connectivity with Rome in Italy. The national carrier had earlier opened bookings on its website for the direct Amritsar-Rome flights till end of March 2022 but now it is not available anymore on website or schedule released by Air India and this route seems to have been suspended as well.
Yogesh Kamra, Secretary Amritsar Vikas Manch (NGO), Convener (India) for FlyAmritsar Initiative and a member of the Airport advisory committee said that he is surprised by this move of Air India as the flights to Nanded and Rome were running with a good flight load of over 70% average occupancy.
Kamra added that Air India on Oct 23 tweeted “Fly non-stop from Amritsar to Nanded. For detailed schedule and to book tickets log in to airindia.in”. After this tweet, many others including me asked the airline that booking from October 31 onwards is not available on its website but Air India has not responded to it, said Kamra.
It is matter of surprise that national carrier has discontinued Rome flight, despite being aware that every week multiple private charters are operating flights to Rome and Milan since September 2020 by Spicejet, Indigo and now Italian carrier Neos Air is also operating on these routes. I have brought this matter to the notice of Member of Parliament Amritsar Gurjeet Singh Aujla. We also appeal to Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia as well as Air India CMD to review this decision.