LONDON- Gareth Thomas, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Harrow West, who also serves as the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Gujaratis (APPG), joined fellow parliamentary representatives in advocating for enhanced connectivity between London Heathrow (LHR) and Ahmedabad (AMD), Gujarat, through more direct flights.
MP Wants Ahmedabad to London Heathrow Flights
On July 17, the group convened within the Parliament premises with Richard Gale, Heathrow Airport’s policy lead.
During this meeting, the focus was on discussing the pressing need for improved flight links, cost reduction for passengers, and the amplification of UK exports to India, reports Eastern Eye.
Gale remarked, “Following the Covid pandemic, London Heathrow Airport contributed £6 billion in travel and cargo business to India in 2022. Expanding our route network to cater to the continuously growing Indian market is of utmost significance.”
“We are enthusiastic about allocating slots to various airlines for India, with a particular emphasis on Gujarat, and aiding carriers in this endeavor.”Richard Gale
Furthermore, it was pointed out that the £35 transit visa fee imposed on travelers from different nations, including Indians, who utilize UK airports for international travel, is elevating the overall cost of travel.
Gareth Thomas, who also holds the position of shadow minister for international trade, expressed,
“The individuals of Gujarati origin residing in the UK frequently travel to the Indian state for both business and leisure purposes. Consequently, enhancing the number of direct flights from London Heathrow to Gujarat is imperative.”Gareth Thomas
Problems for Passengers
Sanjay Jagatia, the secretary of APPG, supplemented, “We have been inundated with numerous emails and calls from concerned Gujaratis spanning across the entire UK, voicing their apprehensions about the challenges arising from Air India’s shift of operations from Heathrow to Gatwick.”
Tanmanjit Singh Dhesi, the Member of Parliament for Slough and the shadow rail minister, shared, “I had previously put forth a proposition to Nigel Milton, Chief of Staff at Heathrow Airport, advocating for the establishment of direct flights to Ahmedabad and Amritsar. Heathrow could potentially encourage other airlines to bolster their flight frequency on these pivotal routes.”
He highlighted that the transition of flights to Gatwick also affects the livelihoods of individuals residing in the vicinity and employed at Heathrow. Gale commented, “Various airlines, including British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic (VS), might consider this initiative. However, their decision-making significantly hinges on revenue data. Jet Airways (9W) previously managed flights to Ahmedabad, whereas IndiGo predominantly operated domestic flights.”
Gale further pointed out, “The recent substantial aircraft orders placed by Indian carriers could have a substantial impact. The independent choices made by these airlines have contributed to Air India’s decision to relocate its operations to Gatwick. Nearly all airlines managing this route target business travelers, cargo transportation, and connecting passengers.”
The APPG for British Gujaratis has announced its intention to organize additional roundtable discussions concerning this matter.
These discussions will involve various airlines and airports, such as Birmingham and Manchester. With the aim of facilitating more cost-effective and direct flight options to Ahmedabad in Gujarat, as well as other airports across India.
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