Chandigarh : After getting directly connected with London Heathrow and Birmingham in the UK, Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport Amritsar is now set to get directly connected with its third destination in Europe by Air India.
The Global Convener of the Fly Amritsar Initiative Sameep Singh Gumtala informed that after UK, there is some good news now for the Punjabi Diaspora in Italy. According to the schedule released by Air India, the airline will be resuming its 1x weekly direct Amritsar-Rome flight from 8th September onwards. The booking for this flight is open until October 28, which is the end of summer season in airline industry.
The flight AI123 will take-off from Amritsar every Wednesday at 1555 hrs with arrival in Rome on same day at 2020 hrs local time. The return flight AI122 will then depart Rome next day on Thursday at 1900 hrs and reach Amritsar on Friday morning at 0535 hrs. Air India will operate its Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route.
Mr Gumtala informed that the resumption of this flight comes after the decision by Italy’s government to relax restrictions on passengers arriving from India. This is a big relief for thousands of Punjabis who got stranded in India due to the decision by Italy’s government to ban direct flights in late April, 2021. They had no other option, except to pay very high fares to travel via other countries on regular or charter flights and complete quarantine requirements during the transit.
This direct flight will now reduce the cost and also their travel time to just 7-8 hours, he said.
The operation of these flights to 3 destinations in Europe provides a big boost for direct international connectivity from the airport, said Yogesh Kamra, Convener (India) of the FlyAmritsar Initiative and Secretary of Amritsar Vikas Manch (NGO).
Mr Kamra said that “Amritsar is currently India’s only airport which is directly connected with 2 airports in the UK. With the resumption of Rome flight, it will be the only airport in India after Delhi to be directly connected with a total of 3 destinations in Europe by the Indian national carrier Air India.”
We are thankful to Air India and Ministry of Civil Aviation for resuming flights to UK (London and Birmingham) and Italy (Rome). With millions of Punjabi diaspora in the UK as well as Europe, these flights will be the shortest connection for Punjabis from one home to another. The success of these flights strengthens the justification of our demand for direct international flights from Amritsar to other countries including Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. He also urged Air India to continue these flights after October 2021 during winter season and increase frequency of flights to these 3 destinations to at least 3 flights a week each.
Mr Kamra added, exporting Perishable Cargo is our need of the hour and should be our utmost priority now as it helps our farmers increase their incomes through direct export from Punjab. Diaspora residing in UK, Italy and other countries have a year-round demand for vegetables from hinterland and this demand should benefit our local farmers. Air India and district administration should setup a process to facilitate sourcing, sorting, packaging of “most in demand” perishable vegetables and processed food.