Joy as airline saves city Indian route

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New Birmingham route is “great news”, says airport

BRITISH Indians living in the Midlands will be able to continue enjoying the benefits of flying direct to India after an airline stepped in to save the route at Birmingham International Airport.

Bilga Air announced they would take up the route after Air India announced this month it was moving its direct flights from Birmingham to Heathrow Airport.

The news will come as a relief to the thousands of British Indians living in the Midlands who had feared they would be forced to travel to Heathrow for future flights.

Peter Vella, Birmingham Airport’s Business Development Director, described the development as “great news”.

UK Charter Airline, Monarch, will operate the direct flights for Bilga Air, departing from Birmingham up to twice a week.

Although the schedule will vary at different times of the year, flights are mainly planned to operate on Sunday and Monday evenings from Birmingham. While some flights will have a technical stop for fuelling en-route, over 90% will operate non-stop from Birmingham to Amritsar.

“It is great news that Bilga Air is starting services to Amritsar from Birmingham in October,” Mr Vella said.

“Bilga Air’s operation will help to fill a very popular market which exists in the Midlands, and following the disappointing news that Air India will temporarily suspend its flights between Birmingham and India from the end October, I’m sure it will be greatly welcomed by the Midlands Asian community. We wish them every success.”

Air India currently runs direct services from Birmingham to Amritsar, Mumbai, Delhi and Toronto, in Canada.

The airport said it had decided to temporarily suspend them until summer 2009 because it risked losing its slots at Heathrow if it did not operate 80% of its allocated movements from the airport.

Surinder Kanwar, Director of Bilga Air said, “We are very excited about launching our new operation and serving both those who want to explore the wonders of Northern India as well as the Asian community who wish to reunite with their families. Despite threats of an economic slowdown, we believe that Bilga Air has the ingredients to sustain a successful operation due to the ethnically diverse region in which Birmingham Airport sits and first class facility it offers.”

Flights with Bilga Air start from £575 return.

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