London: Leader of the Birmingham City
Council Mike Whitby joined noted singer Apache Indian and
other leading figures from the community here to petition the
Indian government to resume direct flights from Birmingham to
Whitby is expected to lead a delegation from Birmingham
to India early next year and to hand over the petition to
India`s Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel.
The petition calls for a direct flight between Birmingham
international airport and Amritsar to be restored due to
overwhelming demand from the Indian community in the Midlands,
estimated at nearly 5,00,000.
Direct flights between the two cities were historically
in place, operated by Air India, and proved very popular.
However they were cancelled in October 2008, not because
of a lack of demand, but because the airline took a decision
to prioritise filling empty slots at Heathrow.
"With those of Indian origin in the West Midlands running
to hundreds of thousands, and many more in the Airport`s wider
catchment area, there is little doubt that there is a huge
demand for flights to be re-instated from Birmingham to the
Punjab," Whitby said yesterday.
The potential benefits to be reaped if these flights were
resumed would be significant, he said, adding it would be a
real demonstration of the natural links that exist among
Birmingham, the Midlands and north India.