City starts petition for direct flights to India

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Birmingham City Council backs return of direct flights

THE Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Mike Whitby, Internationally famed musician Apache Indian, and other leading figures from within the Indian community, have today thrown their backing behind a petition, to lobby for direct non-stop flights between Birmingham and the Punjab.

Cllr Whitby was approached by leading figures in the Indian community to ensure that the petition receives significant attention from the highest levels of the Indian Government.

Cllr Whitby hopes to lead a delegation from Birmingham to India early next year and to hand the petition to India’s Civil Aviation Minister.

The petition calls for a direct flight between Birmingham International airport and Punjab’s leading airport of Amristar to be restored due to overwhelming demand of among the Midlands Indian community, estimated at nearly 500,000 in the airports catchment area.

Direct flights between the two cities were historically in place, operated by Air India, and proved very popular.

However they were cancelled in October 2008, not because of a lack of demand, but because the airline took a decision to prioritise filling empty slots at Heathrow.

Archaic ‘Bilateral Agreements’ between the Indian and UK Governments restrict who can operate flights between the two countries, and without agreement of the Indian Government, the Air India monopoly between the Punjab and Birmingham cannot be broken – even if Air India chooses not to operate it.

Cllr Whitby said the petition would send a “powerful message” to the Indian government to re-instate direct flights from Birmingham to the Punjab. 

 “With those of Indian origin in the West Midlands running to hundreds of thousands, and many more in the Airport’s wider catchment area, there is little doubt that there is a huge demand for flights to be re-instated from Birmingham to the Punjab,” he said. 

”The potential economical, social and cultural benefits to be reaped if these flights were in place would be significant and would be a real demonstration of the natural links that exist between Birmingham, the Midlands and north India.

“What we need now is for the Indian community, and indeed everyone, to get behind this petition and sign it to ensure we send a powerful message to those that can re-start direct flights”.

Birmingham singer Apache Indian also threw his support behind the petition.

He said: “I personally was always worried when my parents when to the Punjab because they would have to travel for so long before they reached their destination. “Adding the nightmare of a Motorway journey to Heathrow is added inconvenience and takes us back years. I am pleased as a native Brummie to be a part of this and that the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, is backing this and supporting the Indian community.”

Birmingham Airport has in the past supported calls for flights to return to the city.

Its CEO, Paul Kehoe, said it was a “no-brainer” to have direct flights from the city.

“We know that the demand is there for direct flights to Amritsar, to Delhi and – with a runway extension – other key Cities in India,” he said.

“There is such a large population of Indian extraction in the Midlands that it really is a ‘no-brainer’ to have direct services from the UK’s Second City.

”The people of the region deserve better than a gruelling journey to Heathrow, and Birmingham Airport will welcome any operator which is able to reinstate this vital link”

 

You can sign the petition at www.epetition.birmingham.public-i.tv

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