London Mayor calls for more flights to India
London: The UK capital has some 'catching up to do', London mayor Boris Johnson has said, calling for more flights connecting the city with India to be an "open and welcoming city for Indians".
"We need better aviation capacity and more flights between London and India to ensure we are an open and welcoming city for Indians," he said.
"London needs to have a four-runway hub airport, along the lines that I saw in several Indian cities during my visit last year. Frankly, London has some catching up to do," said Johnson, addressing a gathering of senior British Indian politicians and business executives at an event hosted by the Indian Journalists Association (IJA) in London on Thursday.
Ironically, the mayor's comments came against the backdrop of an influential House of Commons Transport Committee rejecting his ambitious 'Boris Island' Thames Estuary airport plan in favour of an additional run-way at Heathrow airport.
"We already have same-day visas for business people and are keen to show our enthusiasm for greater number of Indian professionals coming to London. The city has a good image in the mind of Indians and we are doing all we can to make it even easier and pleasant," added the Conservative party MP, who has been gaining in popularity and has also been pegged as a likely successor to David Cameron as British Prime Minister.
Describing himself as the "first and only mayor of London with real live relatives in India", in reference to his half-Indian wife Marina Wheeler, Johnson hailed the success of his India visit in November, 2012.
"The mission did deliver for London as loads of very exciting deals were struck, as many as 15, with the prospect of around 1,000 jobs. Simultaneously, we were also able to help London firms pursue contacts and build partnerships in India," he said.
In his characteristic witty style, Johnson recalled his first vision of a Jaguar on the roads in India and referred to the Tata Motors' acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover as a prime example of the "synchresis" in the India-UK relationship.
"Tata now makes as much in profit as it cost it to buy JLR. It is an amazing testament to the India-UK relationship that an old great motoring mark from Britain was revived by a great Indian corporation," he said.
The event was marked by cross-party representation from British Indian peers and MPs, including Lord Swraj Paul, Tory MP Alok Sharma and Labour MP Seema Malhotra.