Direct trips to Punjab India could be coming as Brampton Council pushes feds for flights from Pearson Airport in Mississauga

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Published December 14, 2022 at 11:45 am

Starting today, travellers headed to the U.S. via Pearson Airport in Mississauga face more stringent COVID-19 rules.

Brampton City Council is calling on the federal government to open direct flights from Pearson International Airport to the Indian state of Punjab.

Last month Ottawa announced a new deal with India allowing designated airlines to operate an unlimited number of flights between Canada and India – a huge increase from the previous agreement, which limited each country to just 35 flights per week.

The deal gives Canadian air carriers access to Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai, while Indian air carriers will have access to Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, and two additional locations to be selected by India.

But Brampton City Council wants to see direct flights to the state of Punjab added to the list, saying there would be significant economic and social benefits in establishing direct flights between Canada and the Indian state.

Council passed a motion on Wednesday (Dec. 14) directing City staff to bring Brampton residents’ concerns and requests for direct and regular flights between Pearson Airport and the state of Punjab to the federal government and airline stakeholders.

The motion was proposed by Coun. Gurpartap Singh Toor, who said Brampton has one of the largest Punjab populations outside of India.

While the updated agreement in November did not add direct flights to cities in Punjab, it will see improved access to Delhi, some 244 kilometres from Punjab’s Chandigarh International Airport. But Toor said the extra travel time from other parts of India to Punjab “are very hard on our seniors.”

South Asian Voice radio host Kulwinder Singh Chhina spoke to council about opening more flights, saying he regularly hears from listeners about the need and desire for direct flights to Punjab.

Chhina said the additional costs and “significant inconvenience” of connecting flights are a hurdle for Brampton.

The renewed push for flights to Punjab comes more than six months after Brampton MP Ruby Sahota called for direct routes to the Indian state from Pearson Airport.

Dozens of repatriation flights were redirected through Punjab’s Amritsar Airport when approximately 30,000 Canadians were stranded in India due to flight cancellations during COVID-19 lockdowns.

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