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First nonstop flight from India to Dulles lands to celebratory welcome

The celebratory ribbon cutting for the first nonstop flight from Delhi to Virginia. Times-Mirror/Amelia Heymann
Today, the first nonstop flight from Delhi, India, to Virginia and the D.C. region landed in Dulles International Airport via Air India.

Sabre Global Demand Data shows India is already the fourth largest overseas travel market for the Capital region. Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation, said the new flight route will encourage tourism to the state. She said it's estimated the direct flight will bring in 30,000 new passengers for business, education and tourism.

“It’s going to give visitors a nonstop transportation way to get directly to Virginia,” McClenny said. “In many cases that’s what people want. They want the easiest mode of travel on an airline that they trust.”

Met with celebratory water cannons, the sold-out plane touched down at 7 a.m. in Dulles, with the first flight coming in at 15 hours and 20 minutes

Guests celebrated the flight’s landing over traditional Indian fare like masala chai and pineapple kesari at Friday Morning's ribbon cutting.

Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) was on hand. He talked with Ashwani Lohani, the chairman and managing director of Air India Limited, about the direct flight from Dehli to Virginia since 2015.

“Here in the capital region we build bridges of economic opportunity to countries,” McAuliffe said. “We look forward to the opportunities this new route will provide for people in Virginia and India alike. This will be an important avenue for business, tourism and educational opportunities between our two great countries.”

Lohani said America is the biggest partner of Air India’s, and he wants to continue and strengthen the relationship.

“The Washington, D.C.,Mmetro is Air India's fifth U.S. destination after New York, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco, and it reinforces our commitment to providing the most convenient service between the United States and India,” said Lohani

The addition of Dehli means Dulles International has 33 direct flights to major cities across the world.

The nonstop flight from Delhi is roughly 15 hours long. There will be three round-trip flights a week.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), on Twitter @HeymannAmelia or on Facebook @journalistAmeliaHeymann.


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