• Wednesday, August 10, 2022

News

‘Scale up the frequency of direct flights to Amritsar, Punjab from Birmingham International Airport for Sikh diaspora’

Read the full letter of Preet Kaur Gill and other 11 MPs to airport chiefs

Preet Kaur Gill MP

By: Pramod Thomas

PREET KAUR GILL along with 11 other West Midlands MPs with large Punjabi and Sikh diaspora have written to Birmingham Airport CEO Nick Barton about more regular direct flights to Amritsar, Punjab from Birmingham.

Direct flights resumed in August last year as Covid travel restrictions were relaxed. But there is only one direct flight per week to Amritsar from Birmingham International Airport. There are more than 130,000 Sikhs in the West Midlands region.

Responding to the request, Birmingham Airport chiefs have pledged to do all they can to restore more flights to Amritsar.

The MPs pointed out that earlier there were six weekly flights and people now have to head to London airports.

“We are writing to you as the elected representatives of the large Punjabi and Sikh diaspora communities in the West Midlands about the frequency of flights from Birmingham International Airport to Sri Guru Ram Das Jee Airport, Amritsar,” the letter to Barton, dated 4 July said.

The letter added that there is a significant Sikh and Punjabi population in the West Midlands, in Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell and Wolverhampton. Over 130,000 Sikhs were registered in the West Midlands in the 2011 Census.

“It was therefore extremely welcome that a direct flight from Birmingham to Amritsar, the city of the Golden Temple, the holiest Gurdwara and most important pilgrimage site in the Sikh faith was introduced in 2017, and subsequently increased to five and six flights per week the following year,” the letter said.

“While it was welcome that the Birmingham-Amritsar direct flight resumed last August as Covid travel restrictions relaxed, we are concerned that the regularity of flights has remained significantly scaled-down. Currently, there is only one direct flight per week to Amritsar, Punjab from Birmingham International Airport.”

MPs said that their constituents have complained that they are having to travel to London to secure flights, which are more expensive in their own right, with additional travel costs, parking fees and inconvenience.

“The establishment of regular direct flights from Birmingham-Amritsar was a great boon to tourism and trade links between the UK and India, not to mention its importance to the Punjabi and Sikh diaspora. Therefore we are writing to you now to ask what plans there are to scale up the frequency of direct flights again and what obstacles exist to doing so without delay,” the letter added.

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