A city-based NGO Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) has appealed to Jet Airways and its partner Etihad Airways to start international flights from the holy city. The AVM patron, Dr Charanjit Gumtala, said, “In a major setback to the Punjabis, Jet Airways has once again left Sri Guru Ramdasjee International Airport out of its 2017 list for expansion of its flights to Abu Dhabi that serves as a convenient hub for travel to destinations in Europe, Middle East, Africa, North and South America.
Jet and Etihad Airways have announced plans to further boost connectivity between India and the United Arab Emirates.” Gumtala said Punjabis had been demanding start of the direct flight for a long time. It would allow passengers to avail themselves multiple travel options via Abu Dhabi to various destinations in the world. In 2013, after its deal with Etihad, Jet Airways had planned to connect 23 Indian cities to Abu Dhabi. Jet Airways was to fly from six more destinations to Abu Dhabi, including Amritsar by end of 2014. All other cities except Amritsar were connected to Abu Dhabi in 2015.
Now, in an expansion the company has announced to start flights from Abu Dhabi to Chandigarh in the second half of 2017 subject to appropriate regulatory approvals and completion of operational readiness at the airport in Mohali. Etihad flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto and other destinations in the USA and Canada, which have high Punjabi population. In 2009, Jet Airways had withdrawn its flight to London from Amritsar and continued to fly passengers to international destinations via Delhi. It added long layover times for passengers in Delhi, besides giving more business to the airport in the national Capital, which was run by a private company.