Amritsar: Amidst lockdown and suspension of international flights by India, there is some good news for Punjabi Diaspora in Canada as Qatar Airways has started thrice a week flights to Toronto from their hub at Hamad International Airport in Doha on July 4, 2020.
Welcoming the development, campaigners at FlyAmritsar Initiative (FAI), said that after resumption of international flights, the launch of this direct flight is set provide seamless one-stop connectivity between Amritsar-Toronto via Doha.
Qatar Airways has been operating daily direct flights between Doha and Amritsar providing one-stop short transit connections via Doha to about nine North American destinations including four weekly flights to Montreal, Canada.
The timings of this newly introduced flight between Doha-Toronto will also enable short transit time of about 3 hours 45 minute through Doha. A large number of Punjabis in and around Toronto and Vancouver in Canada had, so far, no option but to travel through New Delhi due to non-availability of direct flights to these cities from Amritsar.
“With the introduction of this new route by Qatar Airways, Amritsar will now have seven-weekly flights to Canada via Doha. With this seamless connectivity to Montreal and now Toronto, it will become easier for Punjabi NRIs to visit their native Punjab,” said Anantdeep Singh Dhillon, Convener, FAI North America in a statement.
Every year thousands of students from Punjab move to Canada for higher studies and, at the same time thousands of immigrants settled in Canada travel back to Punjab every year. Their current options are either flying to Delhi and then board an onward connecting flights or travel by road to Delhi from Punjab and vice versa.
Despite direct Delhi-Toronto flights by Air India and Air Canada, passengers from the region face a lot of inconvenience of traveling via Delhi that includes time taken for immigration, long layovers and rechecking of their luggage.
Qatar Airways recently worked closely with the Government of Canada to repatriate around 8000 Canadian citizens from Amritsar Airport alone, which is half of the total number of Canadians safely brought back home from the Middle East and Asia during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline operated about 20 chartered evacuation flights from Amritsar to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
According to FAI Global Convener, Sameep Singh Gumtala, it is high time that world’s leading airlines, now knowing the real potential of Amritsar airport for destinations like Toronto, Vancouver and London will consider starting direct flights to Amritsar in near future.”
FAI’s ongoing advocacy efforts doesn’t just end here as Gumtala added they have been consistently writing letters, holding meetings with many airlines at different national, regional and international platforms for convenient connectivity with Amritsar from many destinations including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
FlyAmritsar Initiative (FAI) is a public campaign for more direct flights to and from Amritsar.