The Nanded flight from Chandigarh has been welcomed by Sikhs since it is the first direct service to any sacred Sikh shrine. Air India flight Airbus AB-320 Neo, which carried 162 passengers from Chandigarh, received a water-cannon salute from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in deference for the Sikh Sangat, reports Times of India.
MR Jindal, the Air India airport manager, said he was happy with the success of the flight. Describing the atmosphere as “overwhelming”, he said “Shabad-Kirtan” and “ardaas” were performed before the departure of the plane and that the pilgrims were welcomed with “dhol” and “bhangra”.
Jindal said not only was the return flight fully booked, nearly 60 per cent of the tickets for the next week was also sold out. Stating that the longstanding demand of Sikh Sangat was now fulfilled, he said the flight was a 162-seater with 150 economy and 12 business class seats. “An introductory fare of Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 for a two-way journey has been announced for economy class,” he said.
Member of Parliament from Anandpur Sahib, Prem Singh Chandumajra, also took a group of Sikh pilgrims to the pilgrimage spot, Sachkhand Hazur Sahib, in Nanded, on the first flight. Singh, before boarding, said, “This is a moment of history for Chandigarh’s Sikh Sangat. We are thankful to the civil aviation authorities for clearing the decks for a flight to Hazur Sahib.”