Primera Air Takes Off

Media and Business were invited to the launch of Primera Air at Hyatt Regency in Westside BID (Business Improvement District). Jas Sansi landed in Birmingham’s entertainment district to learn more. 


Deputy Midlands Mayor Bob Sleigh, Cllr Brigid Jones, William Pearson and Anastasija Visnakova

Fly direct is the new mantra for air passengers who want non stop routes to far flung destinations. Following last week’s announcement of direct non stop flights between Birmingham Airport and Amritsar, BHX were in the city today to announce a new airline, Primera Air

Primera Air will introduce direct low cost services to New York, Toronto, Malaga, Barcelona, Palma and Crete from May 2018. Flights to North America start at £149 (one way including taxes), Malaga, Palma and Barcelona start at £35 and Crete from £54.


Justine Howl and Kevin Urquhart

In 2017, the West Midlands exported £6.2 Billion worth of goods to the USA and exported £779 Million to Canada, the highest of any region in the UK. 

For the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) and the British American Business Council (BABC), the timing of Primera Air’s arrival could not be better. 

Primera Air flights between Birmingham and North America start in May, one month ahead of the BABC hosting a major transatlantic conference (June 6th – to 8th 2018) across key venues in Birmingham City Centre including Birmingham Cathedral, Birmingham Town Hall and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. 


Paul Faulkner, Anastasija Visnakova, Steve Allen, Lauren Hunt and Steve Brittan

The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and British American Business Council team were at the launch to welcome Primera Air to the West Midlands. The relationship has started on a high for Chairman of British American Business Council, Steve Allen who’s name was selected in the business card draw for a pair of flights to New York. 


Congratulations to Steve Allen, and to Primera Air, we would all like to echo the words of Deputy Midlands Mayor Cllr Bob Sleigh ‘Welcome to the West Midlands.’ 

Primera Air


British American Business Council Transatlantic Conference, Birmingham:

Westside BID Follow on Twitter @westsidebid 

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505, a trustee of LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today newspaper.



Birmingham to Amritsar, India

Air India flights from Birmingham to Amritsar are finally here. Jas Sansi was at Birmingham Airport to enjoy the celebrations. He explains a little background on how this ten year campaign came to fruition.


Ten years ago, I was reading about the frustrations shared by the Punjabi community in Birmingham and the West Midlands. It concerned the lack of a direct flight from Birmingham Airport to India. 


Air India had recently pulled out of Birmingham and focused their attention on London Heathrow. Passengers from the Midlands who wished to travel to India had options but none were ideal. A number of services appeared over the years, they came, failed to satisfy customer expectations and disappeared. 


At the time, I had started to network intensively in Birmingham in order to support the photography company I had launched. The words ‘credit crunch’ had recently entered popular vocabulary. The world was reeling from the financial crisis of 2008. 


Prime Minister Gordon Brown organised an international summit in London where global leaders including US President Barack Obama gathered to formulate a solution. 


The UK was a strong partner in the EU. It was a long time ago. 


From networking, I met the leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby. We got on straight away, he was passionate about the city and saw its future in reaching out to places like the Middle East, India and the Far East. 


I explained the frustrations of a lack of a direct flight from Brum to India. It was something he was sympathetic with. 


It was Mike who organised a petition and its launch at Asha’s Restaurant in Birmingham who kindly sponsored the event. Mike Whitby gathered the press and business leaders from the region. It was a day I will always remember.


The petition was launched, it was distributed to local media such as Raj FM Radio Station. My mom, Gurdev Kaur, took it around to local Sikh Temples to collect signatures. I had no idea what we were doing. 


I wrote a number of articles which regional press picked up and ran. I appeared on Raj FM and explained what we were trying to achieve. And every few days, I would collect the signed petitions.


The petitions included names and addresses so were data rich. An Indian bank called me in and offered to support the campaign financially in return for the data gathered. I was uncomfortable with the ethics of this proposal. People had signed the petitions in good faith, not to have their personal details sold on. The campaign wasn’t an expensive one other than time. I declined the bank’s kind offer.


The signatures were collected, 25,000 in all. These were collated, packaged up and flown to India by local business man Peter Matthews who presented them to the Aviation Minister. 


As a result of the lobbying, Air India returned to Birmingham in 2013 four years after the campaign started. The service was Birmingham Airport to New Delhi. A connecting flight allowed passengers to continue their journey to Amritsar.


Since the service resumed, it has been used by 600,000 passengers. This represents £330 Million of business our region reclaimed from London. Birmingham Airport has enjoyed record growth and the number of flights between the two countries has continued to grow. 


The most recent development was an agreement to fly direct from Birmingham to Amritsar.   This is a very welcome development given the 7 hours 30 minute journey between the two cities.


This service was launched on Tuesday 20th February 2018. I received an email from Birmingham Airport on Monday 19th to attend the ceremony. Thankfully my diary commitments for that day allowed me to attend.


It was a pleasure to see the campaign finally come to completion. Media coverage was very low key. Media were either not invited or they chose not to attend. I rang The Asian Today newspaper on the way to the airport and they knew nothing about it.


I always have my camera with me, I took a number of shots shown here. It was a great launch. Gurcharan Mall made it an event to be remembered as he filled the terminal at Birmingham Airport with the roar of his Dhol drum accompanied by his band. 


A diva was lit by Birmingham Edgbaston MP Preet Gill, accompanied by Air India personnel and Consul General of India for Birmingham, Dr Aman Puri. Amrick Ubhi represented Nishkam Centre and a number of business leaders attended to support the event. Mr William Pearson represented Birmingham Airport.


The incoming Air India flight was welcomed by this reception with all disembarking passengers presented with a red rose. A photo call was organised with the flags of both countries and a celebration cake was cut.


A great day for Birmingham, in a week where the city hosted a four day celebration for the Chinese New Year. Both India and China will be key to success in the UK as we approach the departure lounge of the EU. 


I would like to thank everyone who was instrumental in bringing about this direct flight. There are those who are high profile but equally there are those who toiled in the background without any expectation of thanks or recognition. 


I pay tribute above all to Bhai Sahib Ji Dr Mohinder Singh from Nishkam Centre who was a constant source of inspiration throughout the campaign. 


To everyone who played a part in delivering this result for our city region, I would like to put on record my deepest heartfelt thanks.


We achieve so much when we work together. 

Jas Sansi


Full set of images from the launch of Birmingham to Amritsar Air India Service:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee of LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

Year of the Top Dog

Chinese New Year Celebrations in Birmingham are now a four day festival. Firecrackers, Lion Dancing and Drums extend a warm handshake to China signalling we are open for Business based on Friendship and Trust. Jas Sansi spent four days chasing the lions with his Nikon and notebook.


“In order to trade with a nation, there has to be trust. Trust is built by spending time with each other, celebrating each other’s festivals. There is no bigger Chinese festival than the Chinese New Year celebrations” James Wong, Chair of Birmingham Chinese New Year Committee explained how the UK and China can develop deeper relations in coming years. 


The Midlands is the only region in the UK enjoying a trade surplus with China. This is predominantly due to Jaguar Land Rover exporting brand Britain to the Far East. 


It is a success story we want to build on as we reach out to trade partners beyond the EU whilst redefining the relationship with our European friends and neighbours. Trade is not a zero sum game, growth benefits all parties. 


The Chinese New Year Celebrations have been part of Birmingham’s social calendar for almost two decades. The festivities held in the middle of February, have until now, focused on the Chinese Quarter of Birmingham known as Southside. 


A decision was taken to extend the party from one day to four days and to reach out to other parts of the city. The four days of events followed a fireworks celebration to welcome in the Year of the Dog on Thursday, the dancing lion dispatched to the financial district on Friday, the shopping district on Saturday and returned to the Chinese district on Sunday. 


This allowed the festival to gather momentum in the build up to the final day of activities on Sunday. It was pure genius with local media following the story, social media covering every drum beat and photographers and video capturing every step of the procession. 


The result; a record 30,000 visitors to Birmingham Southside on Sunday, a delegation from the Chinese Embassy in London, Birmingham Lord Mayor Cllr Anne Underwood and Midlands Mayor Andy Street standing alongside the Chinese New Year Committee to proclaim ‘we are open for friendship and we are open for business.’ 


The Lord Mayor and Embassy Delegation were invited to dot the Lion’s head, officially launching a full day of arts, culture and performances across the district including the Rosie Kay Dance Company, a string quartet from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Choy Lee Fut lion and dragon dance team.


In Southside, Hurst Street hosted the main stage, Arcadian the second stage and Birmingham Hippodrome opened its doors to a day of activities and recitals. 


Arts and Culture have a way of uniting a city in a unique way; witness our city centre on any given day and you will see it’s population going about it’s business in parallel dimensions. Some will be wearing earphones, oblivious to the sounds around them. Others texting whilst walking ignoring trip hazards in their pathway. Office workers grabbing a quick coffee, students rushing to classes, visitors exploring, deliveroo cyclists delivering, street wardens and traffic wardens keeping order. 


All in parallel universes seemingly oblivious to one another. Drop a public performance such as the Chinese Lion Dancing into these proceedings and watch a city district transform. Earphones are unplugged, texting stops, coffee remains unsipped. 


The citizens of parallel existence become a unified audience who find themselves participants in a public work of art. Some watch, others record the action on phones, few fail to be seduced by the drum beat that signals each move of the dancing lion. It’s impossible to ignore the clash of cymbals that support the drum beat. 


From pre school children delighted at the din to pensioners who’ve ‘never seen anything like it’ a city is bought together in a celebration of humanity. And that’s the buy in to a festival such as the Chinese New Year Celebrations, it’s not just about sending more Range Rovers to Shanghai and Cadbury’s Chocolate to Beijing. Its about a city coming together, recognising its differences but embracing it’s diversity. And leveraging  opportunity from this diversity for the universal benefit of all. 


Happy New Chinese Year everyone. 

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, trustee of LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

Images from the Birmingham Chinese New Year Four Day Festival:





BYPY, The Future looks Bright


Victoria Ball (Birmingham Future Chair), Sophie Carlile (BYPY Chair) and Michael Parker (BYPY 2017 Winner)

Last night, The Canal House in Birmingham Westside BID hosted the launch of  Birmingham Young Professional of the Year (BYPY) 2018. Victoria Ball and Sophie Carlile were joined by 2017 winner Michael Parker in encouraging the city’s 35 and under to step forward for nomination. 


Birmingham Young Professional of the Year is an annual celebration recognising the achievements of the city’s emerging talent. It is a thunderclap in evening dress, a night success is celebrated.


The contest to be crowned Birmingham Young Professional of the Year is open to all aged 35 and under who work in the city’s Professional Services. Applications are welcomed from individuals who have made strives, overcome adversity, stepped up to the mark and shone in their chosen field.  


There are six categories: 


HR, Recruitment & Training


Marketing & Communications

Property & Construction


Of the six category winners, one is invited back to the stage as overall winner. She or he will be the 19th Birmingham Young Professional of the Year. 


There are two additional awards on the night; Aspiring Talent (16-24 in education or training) and Inspiring Leader, a lifetime achievement award. 


It’s important an awards event like BYPY exists in Birmingham, the youngest city in Europe. 45.7% of the city is under the age of 30. 


BYPY is a celebration of potential. The awards are the flagship event for Birmingham Future and for those ptimistic about a future they want to shape. 


Save the date – Thursday 24th May 2018, Hall 3, ICC Birmingham. 


Follow on Twitter @bypy

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Images from BYPY 2017

Images from BYPY 2014

Images from BYPY 2013

Images from BYPY 2012:

Jas Sansi is  a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee of LoveBrum and columnist for The Asian Today.

@jassansi  07930 837 505