AMRITSAR: It is duty and responsibility of Indian government to facilitate its citizens settled in Canada by starting operation of any direct flight from Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, Amritsar, but it is not fulfilling them. Owing to its apathy, representatives of Canadian government have to raise this issue with their counterparts in India.
Recently, the Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra raised the issue of more direct flights to India including direct flights to Amritsar with the visiting Indian Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia during the recent bilateral ministerial level talks held between the two countries.
The FlyAmritsar Initiative, global civil society advocacy campaign for connecting Amritsar airport to destinations around the world, has expressed its gratitude to the Canadian Minister for raising this issue.
In a joint statement, Anantdeep Singh Dhillon, Convener North America-Canada, Sameep Singh Gumtala (USA) Global Convener and Mohit Dhanju, Spokesperson-Canada of the FlyAmritsar Initiative have welcomed the efforts by MP Ruby Sahota, representing Brampton North, for once again raising the issue of direct flights to Amritsar in the Canadian Parliament and requesting Minister Alghabra for an update on government’s position about the flights issue. Minister Alghabra acknowledged and replied saying that the issue has now also been taken up with Indian Civil Aviation Minister.
Further, Dhillon thanked MP Sahota for hosting a constructive meeting with senior executives from Air Canada and inviting initiative members to interact with the senior officials of the airline. He further added that, Sameep Singh Gumtala made a detailed presentation to the airline with traffic numbers and other important statistics. A group of community leaders, including Jagdev Randhawa, Jangir Sehmby, Prabhjot Singh, Jangir Kahlon, Harjinder Thind, KultaranPadhiana, Kulwinder Chhina and Rajinder Saini were also part of the deliberations.
This meeting and related developments in the parliament are a major boost to the initiative’s advocacy efforts for starting of direct flights from Toronto / Vancouver to Amritsar. For the first time this long pending demand of the diaspora has been taken up strongly by the representatives from both Liberal and Conservative parties at Federal level and also came up at the bilateral ministerial level talks as well. “We are now more hopeful than ever that either Air Canada or Air India will launch these direct flights in near future, said Dhillon”.
At the start of the year 2022, FlyAmritsar Initiative further expanded its advocacy efforts with the parliamentary petition for development of direct connectivity between Amritsar and Canada, and yet again the persistent efforts by our campaign have created a strong impact, Gumtala added.
Gumtala said that “FlyAmritsar Initiative” which was started in year 2015, with a aim to work on a focused advocacy approach for connecting Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport Amritsar, with major destinations across the globe, has continued to taste the success over past few years, with the support from Punjabi diaspora in different countries. At the start of the year 2022, we began another effort for development of direct connectivity between Amritsar and Canada, and we are glad that once again, efforts by the Initiative, have created a strong impact, Gumtala added.
The advocacy efforts for Canada to Amritsar flights got further push in 2022 with a parliamentary petition introduced in Canadian House of Commons by Initiative’s Spokesperson Mohit Dhanju (from Surrey, BC), that was sponsored by Conservative MP Brad Vis from Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon. This triggered a wave of support and united over a million Punjabi Diaspora residing across the Canada for raising their voice to the Canadian Government for their assistance in development of direct air connectivity with Amritsar. The petition received an overwhelming response from the Punjabi diaspora in Canada with over 14160 signatures received online and thousands other signing the paper petition within a short span of 30 days. Later MP Vis also spoke in Canadian Parliament for government assistance in advocating for a direct flight to Amritsar, said Gumtala.