Birmingham MP Writes To Air India For More Direct Flights To Amritsar

Calls to increase Air India’s flight frequency between Birmingham and Amritsar are gaining steam as demand for the route continues to grow. More than 10 MPs from the region have written to the airline to restore its pre-pandemic schedule between the two cities to boost trade and tourism links between the UK and India.

A letter to Air India

Indian-origin British MP Preet Kaur Gill is spearheading a campaign for more direct flights between Birmingham and Amritsar in India. Birmingham has an enormous Punjabi and Sikh population that benefits significantly from a direct connection.

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As such, when Air India launched a direct service between the two destinations in 2018, it was met with much fanfare. But after COVID, Air India first suspended the flight and later re-introduced it at a reduced frequency.

And now, Birmingham MP Preet Kaur Gill and 11 other MPs have written to the airline, requesting to reinstate the previous schedule to meet the high demand from the local population.

Gill wrote,

“…while it was welcome that the Birmingham-Amritsar direct flight resumed last August as Covid travel restrictions relaxed, we are concerned that the regularity of flights have remained significantly scaled down. Currently, there is only one direct flight per week to Amritsar, Punjab from Birmingham International Airport, and we are keen to see that this is increased, as it has from London Heathrow Airport, in the coming months.”

Just one left

The number of passengers traveling between Birmingham and Amritsar has always been high. Earlier, such travelers had no option but to travel via London, but that changed when Air India introduced twice-a-week non-stop flights between the two cities in 2018.

The flights immediately became popular with impressive load factors, but like many popular routes, BHX-ATQ was also axed following the COVID pandemic, The flight was restored last year, but from the earlier six-a-week schedule, it was a mere shadow of its former self at just once a week.

Air India deploys its Dreamliners to the UK. Photo: Akshay Mantri

Currently, anyone looking for a direct connection between Birmingham and Amritsar has just one option – a once-weekly flight on Friday operated by Air India’s Dreamliner as flight AI 118.

The only other option is to take an AI flight from London to Amritsar (AI 170), which departs three times a week on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.


Ms Gill had earlier commented,

“The result of (only having a single flight a week) is to lay an expensive and restrictive burden on the West Midlands’ sizeable Sikh and Punjabi diaspora population. Our constituents have complained that they are having to travel to London to secure flights, which are more expensive in their own right, never minding the additional travel costs, parking fees and inconvenience this entails.”

Birmingham Airport rallies behind the campaign

Before writing to Air India, Gill had already communicated with Birmingham Airport and met with a positive response. Tom Screen, the airport’s aviation director, attended a conference in Asia specifically to discuss route development with Indian airlines.

A couple of months ago, he said that Air India plans to increase the frequency of flights from once a week to six but is “currently have issues with getting enough spare parts for their Boeing 787 fleet, meaning that a number of these aircraft are currently grounded.”

Hopefully, under the new ownership and with Campbell Wilson taking charge of the airline, Air India will soon resolve its fleet issues and increase frequency to Birmingham.

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