Posted on Dec 16th, 2022 by Heena Ganotra, Last updated on Dec 16th, 2022
The recent air service agreement between India and Canada has disappointed the Punjabi diaspora in Canada and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) as there has been no announcement of direct air connectivity between Canada and Punjab, India. Know more about the Canada Campaign for direct Canada to Amritsar flights in detail below –
Punjabi Diaspora and SGPC are irked with no direct/non-stop flights being started from Canada to Sri Ramdas Jee International Airport (ATQ), Amritsar. Spokesperson and General Secretary of SGPC Gurcharan Singh Grewal made a statement –
“This is discriminatory attitude towards the Guru Nagari (the city of Guru) Amritsar, due to which there is resentment among the Sikhs in India and abroad. Under the new agreement, airports have been included for flights from many cities in India, but Punjabis and especially Sikhs have been discriminated against by ignoring Amritsar.”
There are a large number of Sikhs living all over the world and the number of Punjabis and Sikhs is not small even in Canada. But, they face many problems with regard to travel to their homeland. While they have to bear the loss of their valuable time to reach Punjab from Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, this also puts a huge financial burden on them. But, the new bilateral air service agreement only changes the number of flights that can operate from 35 to unlimited (for airlines of both countries, it doesn’t benefit the Canadian Punjabi community at all that have been pressing for direct flights to Amritsar. All of this has really disappointed all the Punjabis who settled in Canada.
Note – Currently, there are only connecting Canada to Amritsar flights are available.
Under the new agreement, Canadian airlines are restricted from operating direct flights to only 6 major metro cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata. The airline can operate unlimited flights to these destinations without any restrictions. Recently, Air Canada has started operating one-stop Toronto to Mumbai flights and back via London Heathrow Airport from October 30th. The other cities can be served indirectly through code-share services with Indian airlines.
And, Indian airlines are free to fly to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton and two other cities of their choice.
FlyAmritsar Initiative, an advocacy group, has raised its voice against this discriminatory decision. The Global Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative, Sameep Singh Gumtala and Canada-based North American Convener Anantdeep Singh Dhillon said –
“Earlier in the year, over 19000 Canadian citizens and permanent residents signed an official Parliament of Canada petition calling for the government to assist in starting direct flights from Canada to Amritsar. After the petition, the demand has also come up during the talks between Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on May 4 during the latter’s visit to Canada.”
It is unfortunate that despite this strong demand by over a million strong Punjabi diasporas in Canada, the name of Amritsar Airport is missing from the list of airports included in the updated India-Canada air service agreement. The long-awaited demand and sentiments of the Canadian Punjabi community are once again being ignored by either Canadian or the Indian government.
Let’s just hope that the government will consider the requests of so many people and start the direct flights between these two destinations soon.
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A writer by both passion and profession, Heena Ganotra is "half agony, half hope" but all heart. And oh, she has been a book lover from the start! Her love for books is what convinced her to make a career in the wonderful world of words. She loves what she does and is out-and-out a satisfied soul with a wish to spread happiness like herpes. Insight- Some say she is living the best life anyone could because she reads, writes, travels, and makes merry. They’re right because what else does one really need! 🙂