Andy Goff spent a balmy evening sampling the delights of Indian cuisine and hospitality while learning about Air India’s plans at BHX.
On Thursday evening, there was a gathering at Birmingham’s ICC to celebrate the reintroduction of direct flights from Birmingham to Delhi by Air India (AI).
Services were stopped in October 2008 as the recession took hold. The doom and gloom that gripped the world at that time made it seem as if all economic activity as we knew it would come to an end. It was no wonder that airlines in general were re-evaluating the economics of the routes they operated.
Then, in 2009, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its first flight and showed that the aircraft industry could rise to the challenge of ever increasing fuel costs by using fewer pounds of fuel per passenger mile.
Airlines, Air India amongst them, were able once again to consider the viability of routes that hitherto they had considered unfeasible. And the world’s economies started picking up again, which helped.
So, in August 2013 and after a long campaign by bastions of Birmingham’s business community, AI restart services from Birmingham International using the two new aircraft in their fleet – and no more schlepping down to the acres of horror that is Heathrow.
It was pointed out at the ICC event that AI will need roughly the same number of people in attendance on Thursday to climb aboard each of their four flights per week for the service to truly work. Given the links the Midlands catchment area has with India, I’d say they should manage that comfortably.
Since the announcement of the new route to Delhi, Air India’s plans have moved on and the flight will now continue to Amritsar, one of the largest cities in the Punjab – with no change involved.
The reintroduction of direct flights was hailed as further enhancing Birmingham International Airport’s bid to become a real alternative to the London airports – particularly once its runway extension has been completed, due in 2014.
“The route firmly established Birmingham airport and the region as a mini hub for European passenger and cargo connectivity. Giving easy access to local people and businesses, as well as an important window onto the east,” said Uday K Dholakia, Brand Ambassador at Birmingham Airport.
Birmingham city councillor Paul Tilsley added: “For many communities in Birmingham it will strengthen the business ties that we have, thanks to Air India and Birmingham Airport.”
Flights start operating to Delhi and Amritsar on August 1, flying on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Departure times are 9.30pm and passengers will arrive at the two Indian cities about lunchtime the following day.
More picture from last night’s event can be found on photographer Jas Sansi’s flickr site here