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Diaspora

Punjabi diaspora welcomes Air India connecting Amritsar with Rome

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | February 02, 2021 12:18 PM

AMRITSAR: The Punjabi diaspora, FlyAmritsar Initiative and Amritsar Vikas Manch, a non-government organization has welcomed the start of direct flight between Amritsar - Rome by the National carrier Air India, two historical cities in the World for the month of February, March and urged the airline to continue these flights after March 2021 as regular scheduled flights.
Last month in January, Air India announced operation of direct flights from Amritsar to Rome on 1, 11, 21 February and 4, 14, 24 March. The airline is flying its state-of-the-art Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner with 256 seats (238 economy, 18 business) on this route. The same aircraft will return on the next day from Rome to Amritsar and then fly to Delhi. Currently, the airline has opened booking for these flights only till 25th March, 2021.
The inaugural flight for Rome took off from Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport Amritsar on Feb 1 with 242 passengers. The flight originates from Delhi and then make a short halt at Amritsar to fly direct to Rome. Majority of the passengers boarded from Amritsar.
In a press release, the Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative, Sameep Singh Gumtala, a non-resident Indian, said that amidst the pandemic and suspension of many international flights, the start of year ‘2021’ has brought some good news for the Airport especially for the Punjabi diaspora in Italy.
Gumtala thanked Air India, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, Minister Hardeep Singh Puri for these flights as the direct flight will reduce the travel time to just 7-8 hours. Rome has become the 3rd destination in Europe to be directly connected with Amritsar after London Heathrow and Birmingham in the UK. All of these destinations are currently served by the national carrier, Air India. Booking for the direct flights to UK is also now open till the end of October 2021.
The announcement of flights by Air India comes after good response to the operation of many charter flights from Amritsar to Rome and Milan Bergamo Airport in Italy by the Indian carriers Indigo and Spicejet. Both the airlines use a single isle aircraft that makes a refueling stop in Istanbul and Georgia. On January 8, it was for the first time that 3 flights departed for Italy (1 Rome, 2 Milan) from the Airport. Since September 2020, more than 100 flights have been operated between Amritsar and Rome/Milan in Italy, said Gumtala.
The operation of these direct flights to Europe is a big boost for direct international connectivity, especially to Italy from the airport, said Yogesh Kamra, Secretary of Amritsar based civil society non-government organization Amritsar Vikas Manch, that has also been lobbying and demanding these direct flights to Rome and Milan with Air india and other airlines for a long time. The success of these flights also strengthens justification of our demand. He thanked Air India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and urged to continue operation of these flights all year long after March 2021.
Kamra, a member of the Airport Advisory committee added, the population of Punjabis in Italy is second highest in the Europe after UK. Thousands of passengers travel all year long between Italy & Punjab via Delhi/Doha/Tashkent/Ashgabat. Direct flights will save time and also give a major boost to the economy of Punjab. Even industry and farmers will benefit from the direct flights to Europe, UK in future as they will be able to ship cargo to European markets where they are in high demand.
These services have arisen given the huge demand for a direct connection from Italy to Amritsar, the spiritual center of the Sikh religion. The future direct route by Air India or other Indian airline carriers to Italy will hopefully originate from Amritsar instead of Delhi, said Kamra.

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