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Indian-origin UK MP lobbying for direct flights between Amritsar and UK


indian origin uk mp tanmanjeet singh

After raising the issue of resumption of direct flights between Amritsar and UK with ministers in the Indian government and Punjab government, Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi is now lobbying with airlines in UK and urging them to start the direct flights..

JALANDHAR: After raising the issue of resumption of direct flights between Amritsar and UK with ministers in the Indian government and Punjab government, Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi is now lobbying with airlines in UK and urging them to start the direct flights. During his meetings with the senior officials of the airlines, he also quoted Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal's assurance that if any international airlines wished to resume flights from Amritsar, the state government would consider forgoing the state aviation tax.

In the last few days, Dhesi has met Virgin Atlantic and Air India senior officials in UK and buttressed his argument with facts and figures about the commercial potential in case they would start direct flights between Amritsar and UK. Speaking to TOI on Sunday from UK, Dhesi confirmed that he was citing Manpreet Badal's offer to consider the waiver if international airlines would come up with proposal to resume the direct flights from Amritsar. "I shall meet officials of other airlines also in the next few days," he said.

"As I met Virgin Atlantic's Senior Manager External Affairs and soon-to-be Head of India Operations David Hodges, I presented various facts and figures about the potential of a very lucrative route to the global tourist capital Amritsar, visited by millions each year. I also highlighted the incentives being offered by the Punjab government and the overwhelming wishes of the Punjabi diaspora within my Slough constituency, Britain and beyond," Dhesi said.

He also held an hour long meeting with Tara Naidu, Head of Europe Operations, Air India. "I proposed that even if additional slots can't be procured, Air India is currently operating three daily flights from Heathrow Airport to India of which two are to Delhi and one to another destination and one of those could be used for Amritsar," he revealed.

The Slough MP also met Indian High Commissioner in UK, Y K Sinha and sought his personal intervention for reintroduction of direct flights between Amirtsar and London and Birmingham. As he also handed over a personal letter to Sinha, Dhesi argued that "given the Indian government's influence within the national carrier, Air India, I feel your support with decision makers would lead to direct flights being reinstated". Apart from mentioning the passenger potential and environmental impact of the direct flights, which would reduce carbon emissions, Dhesi also pointed out that it would remove the burden on the community as they had to suffer the continual inconvenience of extended journeys and reconnections, rather than a direct eight hours journey. "Those with disabilities and those traveling with children feel particularly aggrieved with the current situation," he argued.

During his maiden trip to India in July, after becoming first turbaned Sikh MP in UK, Dhesi had met union finance minister Arun Jaitley, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal and urged them to use their influence for resumption of direct flights between Amritsar and UK. He also argued that state government should incentivise the international flights from Amritsar to which Badal responded positively.

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