On a warm, drizzly Summer morning, Air India's inaugural flight between Delhi, India, and Washington, DC landed at Washington Dulles International Airport, greeted by a delegation from the Embassy of India, distinguished guests, and a crowd of media who gathered alongside the runway. Upon landing, the 777-200LR was welcomed with a ceremonial water arch, and the aircraft blessed upon arriving to its gate.
Following refreshments, a press conference commenced with performances of Jana Gana Mana and The Star-Spangled Banner, national anthems of India and the United States, and a traditional Indian dance. Speakers included Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ambassador of India to the United States His Excellency Navtej Sarna, Air India’s Chairman Ashwani Lohani, and representatives from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to include Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Margaret McKeough, and Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Jerome Davis. After remarks from each of the speakers, a ceremonial cake cutting and exchange of gifts was enjoyed by the distinguished guests.
After the festivities, I made my way onto the ramp for one more aircraft walk around, and finally onto the runway to watch Air India’s flight depart Dulles for the first time on it’s new non-stop route back to Indira Gandhi International Airport. Luckily the weather had cleared up during the press conference and the skies were now blue with heavy bands of clouds quickly moving across the horizon, creating additional dramatic effect for Air India’s first departure.