New Air India DC-Delhi flight ‘opens great business opportunities’: McAuliffe 

Air India chairman promises more flights, new US destinations, including LA.

By Surekha Vijh

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the newly launched Air India Delhi-Washington flight “opens great business opportunities for both” the United States and India. Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the airline to celebrate the launch of the new flight in Arlington, VA, on Friday, the Democrat said the air connectivity between the two cities marks a new chapter in the bilateral business relations.

“It is great that the capitals of the two largest democracies are today connected also by a direct flight,” said McAuliffe, who  had been a great force behind the launch of the direct flight.

The first flight arrived from Delhi arrived at the Dulles International Airport on June 7. Among passengers were Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna and chairman and managing director of Air India Ashwani Lohani.

McAuliffe, who was at the airport to welcome the first flight, along with Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser, congratulated US and Indian teams that worked to make it possible.

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Initially, Air India will fly from Washington to Delhi thrice a week: on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The departure time for the Boeing 777  from Washington is 11 am.

McAuliffe said he hoped that soon the frequency will be increased to daily.

Speaking on the occasion, Lohani — who thanked the governor for working to make the flight a reality, promised to increase the frequency if there is a demand.

Washington is Air India’s fifth US destination after New York, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco. “We are committed to provide the most convenient service between the United States and India,” he said, adding that it was heartening to see that there was an increased number of American tourists to India.

The chairman said the airline has plans to fly into three more US cities: Los Angeles and Houston and Dallas.

The lunch event, held at CEB Waterview Conference Center, on the 24 floor of an Arlington office building overlooking the Potomac, was attended by dozens of prominent Indian American community and business leaders, as well as travel industry executives.

Rohit Vyas, an anchor with TV Asia, was the master of ceremony.

One of the main features of the event was classical Indian dance performance by local artists. Another attraction was the Air India mascot, the Maharaja, which walked around and greeted people.