The country’s flagship air carrier, Air India, has started a direct, non-stop flight from Delhi to Washington DC and vice versa. As of now, the service is scheduled to run three round trips in a week, between Washington DC and New Delhi, starting this Friday. The flight will depart from respective airports on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The direct flight service was launched at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in Delhi in the presence of Charge de Affairs of US Embassy Marykay Loss Carlson, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani and Commercial Director of Air India Pankaj Shrivastava, among others.
Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna, along with Lohani and Srivastava, are passengers on the inaugural flight to Washington.
Air India plans to deploy its 238-seater Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft for this flight service. The plane has the capacity to hold eight passengers in the first class, 35 in the business class and another 195 in the economy class.
The Washington-bound flight (AI 103) had been allotted a ‘scheduled departure time’ of 0115 hours and will be arriving in the US capital at 0715 hours. The Delhi-bound flight (AI 104) will leave from Washington at 1100 hours and will land at 1030 hours. All flight schedules mentioned are in local time.
Meanwhile, an AI spokesperson told PTI that the occupancy on flights to Washington is at 90 per cent.
The airline plans to use a bigger 321-seater Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between July 9 and 17, added the airline spokesperson.
The airline has also announced that it will be launching direct flights between Delhi-Stockholm and Delhi-Copenhagen soon. The Stockholm service is scheduled to begin from August 16 while the Copenhagen service will be launched from September 16 this year.
Presently, Air India flies to four other destinations in the US apart from Washington, which include– New York, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco. It also operates daily flights to Newark, New York and Chicago, while the Delhi-San Francisco service operates only six times a week.
The US is a major travel destination for Air India and accounts for 20 per cent of the total revenue. In the last financial year, the national carrier made Rs 3,200 crore revenue, an increase of 17 per cent over FY 2014-2015, from its US operations alone.
In the future, Air India plans to fly to other destinations within the US, such as Los Angeles and Houston, among others.