Tribune News Service
Amritsar, November 23
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has extended the Amritsar-Delhi-Birmingham flight to Toronto, said Rajya Sabha MP Shwet Malik, who is also a member of the Aviation Consultative Committee.
Malik told the Amritsar Tribune from New Delhi that he had shot off questions regarding the dwindling flights from Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport to Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.
He said today Sinha announced that the flight from Amritsar was being extended to Canada. Malik said he was assured that one direct international flight would also be made available to Amritsar airport after the government procured new aircraft.
The MP has been claiming that a conspiracy was hatched during the Congress government in 2012 after which all major international flights were diverted to the privately run Delhi airport, causing a steep fall in the Amritsar airport’s revenue. He added that post-2012, a bad phase for the Amritsar airport started, as its revenue from cargo and farm-fresh cargo plummeted.
Earlier, the rise of the Amritsar airport had started with the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government elevating it to the status of an international airport in 2004 and sanctioning about Rs 500 crore for its development.
He said the revenue from the export of perishable cargo at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport had come down drastically.
For instance, the export of perishable goods like fresh vegetables and fruit, produced in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, to Europe came down to zero in the fiscal 2015-2016 from its peak of 908 metric tonnes in 2009-2010.
Earlier, many international flights were withdrawn from the Amritsar airport. Air India had sprung a surprise by discontinuing its Amritsar-Birmingham-Toronto flight, which was termed by many as the most successful flight in the annals of the national carrier’s history. The flight, which used to witness over 90 per cent occupancy, was withdrawn on October 31, 2010. The British Midland International (BMI) had pulled out its Amritsar-Almaty-London flight in October 2012. Before this, Air India had suspended its Amritsar-Toronto flight due to the strike of pilots.
Singapore Airlines had launched thrice a week Amritsar-Singapore flight on October 1, 2004. The service ran well for around five years before being discontinued in early 2009. Later, Jet Airways launched its Amritsar-London flight only to withdraw it after sometime.
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