Amritsar, 29 August 2016 (Bharat Sandesh News):– Amritsar Vikas Manch has expressed sorrow over the step motherly attitude of the Punjab government, the Manch president Kulwant Singh Ankhi has reacted to the statement of Sh. Vishavjit Khanna, Secy Civil Aviation Punjab in which he has said that the Punjab government is trying its best to increase the length of Chandigarh airport runway to 10500 ft., So that long haul flights to U.K may be started for the people in Punjab.
The Manch president has expressed surprise that the Punjab government is so worried to start U.K. flights from Chandigarh, but it never ever thought of restarting the withdrawn Amritsar – London – Toronto flights of Air India. It’s irony that the Punjab government doesn’t know that Amritsar airport has the longest runway of 12000 ft. equal to Delhi airport. There is no technical problem of starting direct Amritsar – London – Toronto flight, which was withdrawn by Air India in 2010 after successful operation for 5 years, only to benefit GMR of Delhi airport. Then why the Punjab government is not following the policy of one in hand is better than the two in bush. It is a matter of great regret that the Punjab government deliberately did not put in efforts to restart the flights from Amritsar for the last six years, despite having the coalition government at the centre. It never raised the matter with Prime Minister, Civil Aviation Minister.
The Punjab government never owned Amritsar airport and never took interest to start more international flights from Amritsar to London, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, etc for the reasons best known to it. It is very much evident from the biased attitude of the Punjab Government towards Amritsar Airport, it seems as if Amritsar airport does not exist in Punjab. The whole propaganda machinery of the Punjab government including propaganda vans to each constituency, progressive Punjab advertisements and Punjab summit are displaying only Mohali airport and has no where a mention of Amritsar airport which is in Punjab state also and is a full-fledged International Airport which can handle big planes like B747.
In this way the Punjab government is doing a great loss to the airport of holy city Amritsar, which is named after our fourth Guru Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji, who was having a strong desire of developing Amritsar as a big commercial and Industrial centre along with religious centre of Sikhs, that is why he got settled traders of 52 trades in the City. But it seems that interest of the colonizer, politician and Bureaucrats are more important to the Punjab Government than our great Guru Sahibaan.
With the withdrawal of Air India’s Amritsar-London-Toronto and Jet Airways Amritsar-London flights, Cargo at the Amritsar Airport has come to the zero. At the time of these flights perishable cargo was as such :-
2006-07 – 107.88 MT
2007-08 – 278.74 MT
2008-09 – 623.59 MT
2009-10 – 908.11 MT
Which is now almost Zero.
With the introduction of Amritsar-Singapore flights by Scoot Airlines, the cargo is again showing increase.
The emphasis of the current government in Punjab has always remained only on developing Mohali Airport due to vested interests catering to a lobby of colonizers, politicians, bureaucrats and others. Had the Punjab government put concerted and sincere efforts for Amritsar airport, it might be having air connectivity with many cities across the globe.
At present Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji International Airport Amritsar is second only to Delhi airport as it has 1400 acres of land, 12000 ft. long runway, Cat-II ILS System which is being improved to Cat III-B ILS. It has 40 thousands sq. meter ultra modem Terminal building which has annual capacity of 1.4 million passengers with peak hour capacity of 1200 passengers 4 aero bridges and other facilities of international standards. It is being used as an alternative to Delhi airport. Amritsar Airport is 24 hours operational airport and is a civil airport owned by Airport Authority of India and not a military airport. It has no restrictions of any kind. It is even handling diverted international flights from Delhi & other airports due to some reasons. It has apron that can handle 14 aircrafts at the moment. The strength of the runway is being increased from 65 PCN to 71 PCN.
The following points prove that Amritsar Airport is the most popular Airport for the NRI’s and they prefer to land at Amritsar. Amritsar airport received 12.50 lakh passengers in 2015-16 which is likely to exceed 16 lakh in 2016-17. From April 2016 to June 2016, the number of international passengers increased to 110916 from the same period of April to June 2015 figure of 69507, thus making increase of 59.6. In June 2016, 39582 passengers travelled to Amritsar as compared to 20886 in June 2015 thus making increase of 89.5%. Total no. of passengers increased at the rate of30% in the same period.
Amritsar airport is having international flights since 1960. At present 5 international airlines; Turkmenistan Airlines, Uzbekistan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Malindo of Malaysia and Scoot of Singapore are operating 42 international flights per week, along with the Indian airlines Air India Express and Spice Jet operating Dubai flights.
It is a tragedy that the Punjab government did not take interest to resume Amritsar – London – Toronto flights of Air India, and Amritsar – London flight by Jet Airways. Amritsar – London – Toronto direct flight was the most successful flight of Air India in the history of Air India, that often Air India has to offload passengers at the Amritsar airport due to overbooking. Even now Amritsar- Delhi – London indirect hub and spoke flight has won the distinction of being no. one flight of Air India among its all international flights originating from Delhi in 2015-16. All this proves that Amritsar airport is the most favored airport for all Punjabis living abroad.
Due to popularity of Sri Guru Ram Dass ji International airport, many airlines like Emirates, Turkish, Bulgaria and Air Asia has expressed interest to start flights from Amritsar. Jet Airways also announced to start flights to Abu Dhabi from Amritsar along with six other Indian cities. While it has already started flights to Abu Dhabi from other 5 cities except Amritsar. But it is a matter of great regret that due to the Punjab government biased attitude, it is not taking interest to help these airlines to start flights from Amritsar.
Sikhs and Punjabis living abroad are very much interested to fly direct to Amritsar to pay their obeisance at the most sacred Sri Harimandir Sahib which is a must visit place for them whenever they come to India. Besides this Amritsar is at the 5th place among 10 most visited places in the world. Every day nearly One Lac people from India and abroad visits Harimandir Sahib. Therefore the Punjab government should take personal interest, rising above its own interest, to strive hard to get more direct international connectivity to Guru Ki Nagari Amritsar Airport with London, Toronto, Vancouver, L.A, New York, Frankfurt etc.