In an attempt to boost greater International connectivity for Punjab & neighboring states from Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee (SGRDJ) International Airport Amritsar, FlyAmritsar Initiative participated in CONNECT Middle East, Africa & India 2019 (MEIA 2019) Route development forum at Dubai Conventional & Exhibition Center. More than 40 International airlines and airports participated in the event.
FlyAmritsar Convener & Overseas Secretary Amritsar Vikas Manch Sameep Singh Gumtala who is an NRI from United States along with FlyAmritsar Convener (India) & Secretary AVM, Yogesh Kamra attended the event in Dubai to present Amritsar Airport to the Aviation World.
They met with top executives, commercial and network planning team of attending airlines, airports on a one to one basis for encouraging & engaging them for starting flights to Amritsar. The aim of the meetings was to enable connections (direct/transit) options from Amritsar to Birmingham, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Milan, Frankfurt, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Kuwait, Bahrain, Dammam etc.
Meeting were held with officials from leading global carriers like Air India, Air India Express, Emirates, Etihad, Fly Dubai, Gulf Air, Air Arabia, Saudia Gulf Air, Salam Air, Flynas, Flyadeal, Egypt Air, Air Astana etc.
Many of the Gulf carriers shared that non-inclusion of Amritsar in bilateral air agreements between the two countries is the main hindrance for them and they are willing to operate direct flights to Amritsar immediately after getting the flying rights for starting flights to Amritsar.
According to Gumtala, many of the Gulf airlines reiterated that if Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Government of India (GOI) opens up Bilateral Air Service agreement (ASA) discussions to include Amritsar as “Point-of-call” in it, then these airlines are willing to immediately commence daily flights to Amritsar.
Airlines shared their views on Amritsar and how bilateral air agreements are a major hindrance for the start of flights. Start of the flights by many of these gulf carriers to Amritsar will provide direct connectivity to thousands of Punjabi workers living in middle eastern countries and also provide one-stop International connectivity to Europe, USA & Canada, said Gumtala.
Kamra informed that a meeting was also held with Mark Souter, Head of Aviation Business Development at London Stanstead Airport for flights connecting London with Amritsar. We shared past and current years data for number of passengers travelling from Amritsar airport to London & Birmingham everyday and other destinations in Europe like Milan, Frankfurt etc.
FlyAmritsar Convener reiterated the urgency of establishing this direct flight connection between Amritsar and London as Air India has suspended its direct Birmingham flight citing Pakistan air space closure as the reason and Turkmenistan airlines has its safety license suspended for Europe operations. They also discussed possibilities of UK low cost carriers and Indian low-cost airline carriers to be taking this opportunity of most in demand route between London-Amritsar.
Millions of devotees from abroad are expected to start coming to Amritsar in 2019 for 550 years of Guru Nanak Dev Gurpurab celebrations, said Gumtala. He appealed to Govt. of India to grant special permission to all these airlines willing to operate to Amritsar due to its special status.
State government and Punjab tourism ministry should also take a proactive approach to request the GOI, MoCA to grant special permission to all these airlines willing to operate to Amritsar. He said all these airlines are already operating or have been allowed to operate their commercial operations to other Tier-II International airports like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Goa, Trivandrum, Kochi etc.
The two-day event at Dubai was organized along with one of the World’s biggest Arabian Travel Market 2019 event which brings together airline specialists, aviation authorities, tourism boards, airports and tour operators, as well as other travel-related industry professionals.
FlyAmritsar is a civil society global initiative started in 2017 for a focused approach toward bringing in more international and domestic flights to the Airport that takes forward the work started by Amritsar-based NGO Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) in 1990s.