Akal Air steps in to run new routes from Birmingham to India
A new air link to northern India from Birmingham International Airport is being launched – shortly after the withdrawal of national carrier Air India left the city without a direct link to the country.
Akal Air, a trading division of Air Sylhet, will be running twice-weekly flights to Amritsar – the most popular Indian destination from Birmingham – passing through Vienna.
Air India dropped its direct Birmingham-Amritsar flight at the end of last year. It had been hoped the flights would return this summer, but the airline announced last week it would be abandoning Birmingham for the moment to focus on its routes to Heathrow.
Because of regulation by the Indian government, only Air India is allowed to run direct flights from Birmingham to Indian airports, so firms looking to take advantage of the demand left by Air India have had to go via other airports.
The Akal Air flights have an hour stopover in Vienna, but do not involve changing planes. There are two other indirect routes to India from Birmingham, run by Turkmenistan Airlines and Air Slovakia.
Business groups and politicians from the West Midlands are lobbying the Indian government to relax air legislation and let other firms replace the direct route from the city to Amritsar.
A spokeswoman for Birmingham International Airport said it was still hopeful Air India would return later in the year.
Although its Birmingham-India route was more profitable than any of the London ones, Air India had to drop the service to avoid losing valuable slots at Heathrow because of the way the London airport is run.
The first Akal Air flight is planned for Saturday, April 4.