Air India announces new flight route from Stansted to Amritsar

Simon Calder
Touch down: the people of northwest India can now reach northwest Essex really easily: Getty Images

Long-haul scheduled flights are back at Stansted, with a new link from the Essex airport to India starting at the end of the month.

The Air India Boeing 787 will connect Stansted with the Punjabi city of Amritsar from 31 October 2019.

Amritsar is in the northwest of India, adjacent to the Pakistani border and closer to Islamabad than it is to Delhi.

Its most notable sight is the Golden Temple, the holiest place of worship for the Sikh faith.

Stansted is in the northwest of Essex, adjacent to the Hertfordshire border, and closer to Cambridge than it is to London.

Its most notable sight is Audley End, a stately home near Saffron Walden.

The new service is expected to appeal to people of Sikh heritage living in London, and perhaps as far away as the East Midlands – though Air India already flies from Birmingham to Amritsar.

Stansted’s chief executive, Ken O’Toole, said: “Stansted is ideally situated to serve the Asian community in North and East London and across the East of England so we are delighted that Air India has recognised the customer demand for Amritsar.

“Our ambition is to use our spare runway capacity to build our long-haul route network and improve the UK’s connectivity with the rest of the world at a time when availability is in short supply across south-east airports.

“The welcome arrival of Air India is another positive step towards that goal.”

David Rooke, location services director at Invest Essex, said: “This new Air India route will facilitate major business opportunities in both countries and can only strengthen business trade and investment building upon the substantial and growing Indian owned business base in Essex.“

The Indian carrier has until now focused its London services solely on Heathrow.

But with slots at a premium at Europe’s busiest airport, Air India is looking for new opportunities.

Stansted is the main base for Ryanair, and has a busy network of European flights on easyJet and Jet2. But it has had a rocky relationship with long-haul scheduled flying. Over the years a number of transatlantic routes, primarily to the US, have failed.

In the 2000s Air Asia X launched a link from the Essex airport to Kuala Lumpur, but after a couple of years it moved to Gatwick – and was cancelled soon after.

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