Amritsar, August 29, 2019 (Yes Punjab News)
Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, Amritsar is in the limelight as a top destination from a foreign country airport. Amritsar has emerged as the top onward destination from Melbourne Avalon Airport on Air Asia X flights.
As per a report published by “Geelong Advertiser”newspaper from Geelong situated in the suburbs of Melbourne Avalon airport, Amritsar is the top onward destination for passengers flying from Melbourne Avalon to Kuala Lumpur. Other airports that follow in the top five list are Phuket (Thailand), Kochi (India), Penang (Malaysia) and Bangkok (Thailand).
Air Asia X, is currently the only International airline operating flights from Melbourne Avalon after switching its twice-daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to Avalon Airport in December 2018. It started its operation from Kuala Lumpur to Amritsar in August 2018 with four weekly flights using its 377-seater Airbus A330 aircraft fitted with 365 economy and 12 flatbed business class seats.
According to the report, Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings said that the booming Indian market provides a good tourist opportunity for the area and expressed surprise that China did not feature in the top five destinations. Amritsar features on the front cover of published report and the detailed story highlights importance of Amritsar along with a picture of Harmandir Sahib.
The Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative (FAI) and Overseas Secretary of Amritsar based NGO Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) Sameep Singh Gumtala said that the start of this flight in August 2018 is a direct result of efforts by the Initiative to contact various airlines across the World with detailed presentations including data and traffic statistics about Amritsar Airport.
In September 2017, when we first approached the airline and apprised them of the immense potential of flights to Amritsar, there were apprehensionsthat filling a 377seater aircraft from Amritsar to Kuala Lumpur may not be feasible especially with Malindo Air already operating flights between the two destinations.
“We assured the official that a direct link with Kuala Lumpur on the low-cost carrier will be beneficial not just for traffic to Malaysia but also for passengers travelling between Punjab & Australia, where the biggest migration of Punjabis has happened in the past few years along with Canada. They were swift and receptive for starting this new connection to Amritsar”, said Gumtala. FlyAmritsar Initiative was started in 2016 for a focused approach toward increasing flight connectivity with Amritsar.
Air Asia X flies to more than 140 destinations and these flights give passengers flying through Malaysia a quicker onward option to Australia and other South-East Asia destinations rather than first having to transit through New Delhi. This link also proves to be beneficial for the students pursuing studies in Australia as these flights are very cost effective. The journey between Amritsar and many other Australian cities can now be completed in less than 16 hours on Air Asia X along with Singapore airlines low-cost carrier Scoot and Malindo Air of Malaysia.
This is a great outcome for the passengers flying between Amritsar and major Australian cities. We are pleased to note that the diaspora in Australian region and travelers wishing to fly in directly to Amritsar’s SGRDJ Int’l Airport have supported these flights. This will also provide a good platform to the FlyAmritsarinitiative for bringing in more airline connections, added Yogesh Kamra, Convener (India) of theFAI& Secretary AVM.
Success of ASEAN airlines that are allowed in bilateral air agreements to operate to Amritsar proves that the State of Punjab has great potential for direct international connectivity to other regions of the World. Despite having huge population of diaspora in London, Toronto, and other middle eastern destinations, non-operation of flights by Indian airline carriers to destinations other than Dubai and Birmingham is still not understandable, said Anantdeep Singh Dhillon, Convener (North America) for FlyAmritsar Initiative.
Connectivity of Punjab to the western countries has not yet been facilitated by the Union government due to the absence of bilateral air service agreements for the carriers from Gulf and European countries including UAE, Oman, Turkey, Bahrain due to which they are not able to start flights to the holy city. Dhillon said, it is high time that the Indian government revisit its bilateral air service agreements with different countries across the World to enhance connectivity in light of its open skies policy.
It may be noted that other Tier-II Int’l airports like Jaipur, Lucknow, Trichy, Kochi, Kozhikide, Calicut and Mangalore have been allowed to have flights from Emirates, Fly Dubai, Etihad, Oman Air, Gulf Air and Kuwait Air. These airlines connect seamlessly to Europe, Canada, USA, Middle East and other countries via airline transit hubs in their respective countries. However, Amritsar airport remains the only exception.
If more airlines from other countries are allowed, it will not just bring passenger traffic in the form of friends, relatives, students, but will also increase tourism and will impact cargo moment from Punjab that will overall impact the economy in a positive way with the start of new flights, said Dhillon.