Long-awaited direct flights from the city to India have brought in 50,000 passengers in six months since it was launched at Birmingham Airport.

Airport bosses fought for five years to return Air India flights after they were stopped from the city in 2008, and have been repleased by the response, with four in five seats sold.

To celebrate its success in the first six months, leaders of the local Sikh community presented Birmingham Airport with a commemorative plaque to thank the team for launching the flights last year and reconnecting Birmingham with Delhi and Amritsar, an important spiritual centre for the Sikh faith.

The airport’s aviation development director William Pearson said: “The Midlands has the second largest Asian community in the UK, so it’s no surprise that the airline has carried its first 50,000 passengers and experienced over 80 per cent load factors on the route since launching last August.”

Nirmal Dass, a trustee of the Shri 108 Sant Sarwan Dass Charity, presented the plaque to the airport. He said: “This service is incredibly important to the entire Asian community across the region. We’d like to say a big thank you to Air India and Birmingham Airport for providing these direct links to Delhi and Amritsar from our local airport.”

The service operates each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving from Amritsar and Delhi into Birmingham at 6pm and departing to Delhi and Amritsar from Birmingham at 9.30pm.