Charanjit Singh Teja
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, December 18
Bad news for international fliers, as Qatar Airways suspended Doha-Amritsar flights till March 31, 2022. Local residents and activists claimed that it was a major setback to the international connectivity of Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar, as it was the only foreign international airline carrier providing convenient connectivity with Europe, North America and other destinations around the world.
Passengers prefer flying directly from Amritsar to international destinations via Doha due to many factors. Now, they have no other choice left for them except to fly to Delhi. — Sameep Singh Gumtala, convener, FlyAmritsar Initiative, local NGO
While the operation of scheduled international flights to India remains suspended until January 31, 2022, the airline was operating 3-weekly flights under air bubble agreements, now signed by India with over 33 countries.
The frequency was reduced to only two weekly flights for November and December. Now, all of a sudden, thousands of passengers got cancellation notices for all flights after December 18. Many of them who booked directly with the airline after contacting them are given the option to fly from Delhi or get a refund for their tickets. They are being told that due to air-bubble limitations, the airline is suspending its flights from Amritsar.
Sameep Singh Gumtala, convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative, a local NGO, said the never-ending air bubble agreements was hurting the international connectivity and causing great inconvenience to travellers from the region, as they also limit foreign airlines to transit passengers via its hubs. Qatar Airways has been serving Amritsar for more than 12 years now with the airline providing shorter connection timings in Doha to connect with the world as compared to flights via Delhi.
“Passengers prefer flying directly from Amritsar to international destinations via Doha due to many factors including convenience of getting immigration, luggage drop-off/pick-up, customs all being done at Amritsar. Now, they have no other choice left for them except to fly to Delhi. Also, these are geographical direct routes to the west and the airline also provides them with shorter connection timings at Doha as compared to flights via Delhi,” Gumtala said.
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