Published on : Tuesday, November 5, 2013
As the South Asian community in the Midlands recently celebrated Diwali, figures released from Air India and Birmingham Airport illustrate the strong demand for direct flights to the Indian Subcontinent from the region.
After a long campaign to get direct flights, South Asian businesses and families in the Midlands support the new direct services to Delhi and call for the further strengthening of aviation links between the two countries.
Key facts and figures:-
• Air India launched a direct service from Birmingham Airport to Delhi on 1st August 2013
• Since their flights commenced, they have carried 20,500 passengers and their services are already nearly 80% full
• The number of passengers that travelled from Birmingham Airport to India for the period Sep12 to Aug 13 was 129,741 using indirect services, illustrating a strong demand within the Airport’s catchment area
• The service operates four times a week using the new Boeing 787-8 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft. The 256 seat B787-8 series aircraft has a split cabin, consisting of 18 business class and 238 economy seats
• Latest figures from Birmingham Airport show a 13.5% increase in the number of long haul passengers using the Airport in September, compared to the same month last year
According to the ONS, the West Midlands has the highest BME population outside London. The British-Indian population of the West Midlands forms 3.9% at 218,000 (2011). Residents born in India represent the most numerous non-UK born group in the West Midlands with a population size of nearly 100,000 .
At the annual Routes Conference held in Las Vegas in early October, Delhi International Airport and Birmingham Airport signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize a working relationship and commit to further developing links between the two cities.
Jason Wouhra, Director of East End Foods plc and Chairman of the Midlands IoD, said: “The ability to fly direct from the Midlands to India is a game-changer for businesses like mine. The reduction in time saves me money, allows me to work more effectively when I get there and crucially makes it easier for my suppliers and customers overseas.
“It shows that the Midlands is serious about building trade links with the Subcontinent and I hope that this is the first flight of many”.
Ninder Johal, Chair of the Black Country Asian Business Association, said: “Having recently been to India on a trade mission, it was fantastic that we were able to plan for Midlands businesses to fly locally from Birmingham as opposed to making an arduous trip to London.
“For those celebrating the festival of Diwali it is brilliant that both local businesses and local communities are able to use their nearest airport in order to get to India to celebrate for both business and religious reasons.
“I understand and am delighted to hear that the Air India flights to Delhi have been such a brilliant success in terms of numbers travelling via Birmingham. We hope to see more routes to one of the fastest growing economies soon”.
Tan Handa, owner of the Horseshoe Bar & Restaurant, said: “Direct connections to India are important to people like me in the Midlands who travel back and forth a lot to visit friends and family.
“I recently visited Delhi for my grandparents’ anniversary party and it was really convenient to use Birmingham Airport. I dropped my mum to the airport for the flight and due to work commitments I had to fly out a few days later. If I had to make two journeys to Heathrow for our flights I doubt I could have gone. It is inconvenient and adds time, not to mention the big rise in fuel costs.
“Indian families have been crying out for direct flights and I am glad it’s finally happened. It’s hugely valued and I hope this signifies a host of new direct flights from Birmingham Airport to other major destinations too”.
Chairman of Purico companies, Professor Nat Puri DL, said in response to the launch of the Delhi service: “The saving in time travelling to Heathrow is a welcome news, direct flight to Delhi is much welcomed for the business, families, students and growing number of bilateral tourists. The route will give the Midlands direct connectivity with the growing number of Indian businesses keen to trade with the wider Midlands Region.”
Source:- Birmingham Airport