The beleaguered Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport here will see the withdrawal of international carrier British Midland International (BMI) on October 26 even as its annual loss rises to Rs 35 crore.
Despite efforts on the infrastructural front, BMI's withdrawal will make it difficult for Airports Authority of India (AAI) to manage the airport here.
According to an official of the airport here, BMI pulling the plug on operations will incur a loss of Rs 3 to 4 crore annually for the airport.
The airport has been struggling to retain international airlines ever since Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways stopped their international operations here in 2008.
Earlier this year, the airport had suffered a jolt when Air India stopped its flight to Toronto despite good response. The BMI pullout is perhaps the nail in the coffin.
Airport officials said the major reason for withdrawal by airlines' was Business Class going vacant. While earlier, the airport's annual loss was about Rs 20 crore that is now set to touch Rs 35 crore. To curtail losses, the authorities are writing to low-cost carriers, for which Business Class occupancy is not an issue, to start operations from Amritsar.
"The airport is facing a loss of about Rs 35 crore annually and the pullout by international airlines is worrisome," airport director Suneel Dutt said. "But we have the infrastructure in place and are regularly writing to airlines to start operations from here."
"Even though passenger traffic has grown in the past few years, a lot of money has been spent on creating infrastructure and facilities," Dutt said. "The cost of depreciation has brought losses."
"We have written to Air India to resume the Toronto flight as it has a lot of potential, he added.
With fewer flights, passengers of the region have no option but to travel to Delhi for heading to international destinations.
Currently Turkmenistan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Uzbekistan Airlines, BMI, Air India Express are some of the airlines running international flights from Amritsar.
In terms of infrastructure, the airport has a new terminal building and facilities such as aerobridges and advanced landing system have been added.