Amritsar int’l airport emerges as third busiest in India amid lockdownUpdated: Jun 24, 2020 20:42 IST
The suspension of international commercial flights during the coronavirus induced lockdown has revealed the full potential of the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport in Amritsar.
As per recent traffic report released by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for April, Amritsar recorded a total of 5,972 international and domestic passengers, leaving behind all major airports in India, except Delhi and Mumbai.
Delhi was on the top with 20,624 and Mumbai second with 9,051 passengers. Of total 5,972 passengers, 5,011 are international and others domestic. With 5,011 passengers, the Amritsar airport has achieved the third place among all international airports in country.
A complete suspension of flights in late March left thousands of foreign nationals and residents stranded across country, including Punjab. The biggest number of UK and Canada residents stranded in India was recorded in Punjab. To repatriate its citizens, their consulates in India arranged special chartered flights operated by leading airline carriers, including the British Airways.
Amritsar handled the biggest number of flights from India to London’s Heathrow airport by UK and by Canadian foreign office to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal to fly back Britons and Canadians. These overseas flights started in April and continued to operate till mid-May.
Sameep Singh Gumtala, global convener of the Fly Amritsar initiative, said, “The demand for direct repatriation flights from Amritsar to UK and Canada was raised by stranded passengers with their governments. This proves that majority of the international traffic at Delhi airport from UK and Canada comes from Punjab.”
“Punjabi diaspora prefer to travel directly from Punjab instead of Delhi, if more international flights are started from Amritsar. The airport is within three-hour reach from all major cities in Punjab and this distance will be reduced to half after the completion of Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway,” he said.
Yogesh Kamra, Fly Amritsar convener and secretary Amritsar Vikas Manch, said the airport has all infrastructures to handle traffic even during extreme crisis situations.