1st direct Delhi-Washington Air India flight lands in USA
The first direct Air India flight from Delhi to Washington DC landed on Friday at the Dulles International Airport, connecting the capitals of the world's two largest democracies.
The flight, AI 103, was accorded a water cannon salute and traditional gate-side prayer ceremony upon its landing at the airport.
Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani and Commercial Director of Air India Pankaj Shrivastava were among the passengers on the inaugural flight to Washington.
Air India has deployed its 238-seater Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft to cater to the new direct service to the US. The plane offers eight seats in first class, 35 in business and 195 in economy class.
The state-run airline will operate a bigger 321-seater Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between July 9 and 17, according to the airline spokesperson.
The non-stop flight service is expected to bring in additional 30,000 leisure and business travellers and $30 million in total economic impact annually to the National Capital Region, local officials here said.
"Here in the nation's capital, we are delighted to invite many more visitors from India to explore the sights and sounds that make Washington DC the greatest city in the world," said District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser. According to Sabre Global Demand Data for the year ending March 2016, the Washington DC area welcomed more than 281,000 Indian visitors, making India the fourth largest overseas travel market for the region.