Non-Resumption Of Toronto Flight A Setback For Amritsar Airport

Airport well-equipped, but in losses: The airport, whose annual loss has mounted to Rs 55 crore, is high on infrastructure as it has been renovated with major capital. It is CAT-II compatible and can handle over 1,200 passengers at a time. It is capable of handling wide-bodied aircraft and has 14 parking bays. The growth in traffic was 22.7 per cent in 2009 when the new airport complex was established. Domestic and international traffic peaked to 9 lakh by 2012. The airport also has perishable cargo handling facility as well.

AMRITSAR – The Air India’s decision not to resume the Amritsar-Delhi-Toronto flight this summer season as well has drawn flak from various quarters. Those who have come out against the decision say it will cause further loss to Shri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, Amritsar, which is already in the red.

Amritsar airport advisory panel member Gunbir Singh said: “The direct flight from Amritsar to Toronto was a phenomenal success. But it was withdrawn inexplicably a few years ago. On popular demand, an indirect connection via Delhi was started. The flight used to fly from Amritsar to Delhi and then head from Delhi to Toronto, literally flying again over Amritsar in keeping with the established air corridor. This non-conventional wisdom was beyond comprehension, but the solace of having a flight to Canada, albeit indirect, was still a relief. Now even this indirect flight has been withdrawn from the summer schedule of Air India”.

He said the Amritsar airport had been bleeding economically due to dwindling international flights. “This new development is discriminatory and commercially suicidal for the airport.” He said hundreds of crores have been invested in the hospitality sector in Amritsar over the last five years and these star hotels were dependent on the feed from international carriers for their survival.

It is imperative that the “discriminatory approach” to the Amritsar airport in favour of Delhi international airport was curtailed, he added.

Amritsar Hotel and Restaurant Association (Civil Lines) president APS Chatha said the suspension of the flight had come as a huge loss to the hospitality industry, which was already passing through a bad phase. “The flight used to bring a number of NRIs who were a major source of revenue for us.”

Amritsar Vikas Manch patron Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala termed the move as “anti-people” as the flight was popular among the Punjabi community living in Canada. He alleged the government was promoting the Delhi airport at the cost of other airports.

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