Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has asked Vistara Airlines to consider starting a direct flight between Chandigarh and Singapore to facilitate travel to the South-East Asian region, which is witnessing significant movement from Punjab.
The idea came about in a meeting between Vistara CEO Phee Teik Yeoh and the Chief Minister here on Tuesday in which the airline expressed its desire to introduce more flights. Vistara is a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Group.
Presently, Vistara has direct flights from Amritsar, Delhi and Mumbai. With five more planes in its fleet, Vistara sees huge potential to connect Punjab with many more cities and countries.
Vistara CEO and his advisor Gurjot Singh Malhi told the Chief Minister they were happy to explore the feasibility of such a flight. Vistara also proposed to collaborate with the Tata-owned Taj Hotels to promote tourism in a big way through an MoU with the state government.
The Vistara team proposed working with the state government to project Punjab as a key tourist destination and suggested that signing a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect would be in order. The CEO said that the MoU could encourage other foreign airlines to promote Punjab in select foreign countries.
Captain Amarinder responded positively to the suggestion, welcoming Vistara’s interest in promoting the state as a tourist destination.
Team Vistara stressed the importance of the airlines working in coordination with the roadways and railways to promote religious tourism in Punjab, which draws lakhs of people every year to the holy city of Amritsar.
Captain Amarinder assured Vistara that his government was keen to promote tourism as a means to generate employment and revive the economic growth of the state. He further assured the visiting team that all efforts would be made by his government to help Vistara execute any plans in the interest of the state’s welfare.
A Punjab government spokesman said the development was a further boost to government's efforts to bring investment into the state .
NRIs from Punjab have long favoured direct flights to cities in the state in order to save precious time and escape the chaotic traffic of Delhi. There has been a demand to Air India to restore direct Amritsar-Birmingham and Amritsar-London-Toronto flights the flag carrier had stopped running, citing heavy losses. But in contrast, Jet Airways and Air Canada have been successfully operating these flights to Toronto.
Amritsar residents had also requested Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan to start Amritsar-Vancouver flight during his visit to Punjab last week.
Keen on bringing investments to a debt-ridden Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh is looking to fulfill his election promise by reviving the flights network in the state.