Air India makes first direct flight from New Delhi to San Francisco to rousing welcome

San Francisco mayor declares it ‘Air India Day’.

By Dileep Thekkethil

Air India

India’s first non-stop flight to the US West Coast, connecting New Delhi and San Francisco, landed in the San Francisco International Airport, on Wednesday.

The Air India flight AI 173, which is a B777-200LR carrier, arrived at the San Francisco airport (SFO) with 230 passengers on-board at 5.40 a.m. on Wednesday with the control tower welcoming the maiden direct flight from India all lit up with Indian the tri-color.

According to the passengers inside the aircraft, they applauded when the aircraft touched the runway of SFO.

A number of officials from India and the US, which included the Consul General of India Venkatesan Ashok attended the ribbon cutting ceremony in New Delhi to mark the beginning of the services.

PTI quoted Ashok saying, “It is a remarkable day and today is a great day for Air India”.

Marking the maiden landing of a non-stop aircraft from India, the San Francisco city mayor Ed Lee declared this day as ‘Air India Day’.

With the non-stop flight shuttling between San Francisco and New Delhi, Air India has become the first Airliner to offer a direct connection to West Coast.

Prime minister Narendra Modi had announced the Air India flight to connect India and Silicon Valley, during his recent trip.

The Air India flight AI 173 will fly to San Francisco three times a week – on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“Starting a direct flight within two months was a daunting task but we made it possible with the cooperation from US official,” an Air India official said to PTI.

Abhinav Kuru, an IT professional from Hyderabad who travelled in the maiden flight said, “This direct flight has reduced the travel time by 5-6 hours. Earlier it used to take about 23 hours but with this flight it is just 17 hours.”

The new aircraft has 3-cabin configuration with 8 seats in First Class, 35 seats in Business class and 195 seats in Economy Class.

A US security official was quoted saying that they had made special arrangement to greet the passengers of the first non-stop flight from India.

“The airport immigration office opens at 7.30am for the first flight, but we opened it today at 5.30am to receive passengers from India,” the official said.

During its departure from the Delhi Airport, a special cake was cut to mark the maiden flight and the passengers were welcomed with rosebuds while checking-in.

Prior to the first non-stop journey to the US, Air India had hosted a contest in Twitter.

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