Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who was on a three-city tour to India, discussed various issues of mutual interest duirng his stay at Amritsar. The Chief Minister hosted dinner for the London Mayor at Amritsar last evening. “Various issues of mutual interest were discussed at the meeting, during which Sadiq Khan underscored the close and emotional ties between London and Punjab,” said an official release.
Pointing out that there was a large Punjabi diaspora in London, the Chief Minister said the two sides shared a strong connect, which they were continuously striving to further strengthen.
In a token gesture, symbolising the shared interest of Punjab and Britain in cricket, the London Mayor presented embossed cricket balls to the Chief Minister and Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who also represents Amritsar in the state assembly.
MLAs from the district submitted a memorandum to Khan, seeking direct British Airways flights between Amritsar and London, to facilitate personal and business travel.
With more than 35 million pilgrims visiting Amritsar every year to obeisance at the famous Golden Temple, Amritsar had emerged as the preferred destination for the Punjabi diaspora and foreign tourists, the MLAs said in the memorandum.
Amritsar airport, and the overall Punjab region, account for large international traffic to and from North America, Europe (including UK, Germany and Milan) and Australia but at present, the airport lacks any non-stop flights to these destinations, the memorandum said.
As a result, thousands of people travel by road to take direct non-stop flights between Delhi-London or Delhi-Birmingham.
All this traffic can travel direct with a non-stop British Airways flight between London-Amritsar, said the memorandum, adding that this will lead to a major increase in business apart from making British Airways more popular among the large Punjabi population settled all over the world.
In the memorandum, the MLAs pointed out that more than 6 million Punjabis settled in North America, Europe, Australia, South East Asia and Middle East countries are from the cities served by Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, Amritsar which is North India’s second largest airport after Delhi.
Pointing out that the airport had all the world-class facilities available in its integrated terminal building, they said that the Amritsar airport is currently connected to many international destinations by Qatar Airways, Air India, SpiceJet, Malindoair, FlyScoot, Turkmenistan and Uzbek airlines.