Hyderabad, Jan 15 (IANS) Air India's first non-stop flight on the Hyderabad-Chicago route arrived from the US city at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here on Friday. A few hours later, the first flight from the city to Chicago departed.
Flight AI-108 landed at 01.00 hours with 237 passengers and 16 crew. The same aircraft - a Boeing 777LR - took off from Hyderabad to Chicago with 226 passengers and 16 crew around 12.50 hours amid much fanfare.
Senior officials of GMR-led Hyderabad International Airport along with Air India staff and other airport stakeholders were present at the terminal to see off the passengers and crew on the flight to the US city.
A warm reception was earlier accorded to passengers who arrived from Chicago, including a cake-cutting ceremony, and cultural events and photo opportunity amid adherence to COVID protocols, said airport operator GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL).
The flight AI-107 from Hyderabad to Chicago will operate every Friday, departing from Hyderabad at 1250 hrs (IST) and land in Chicago at 1805 hrs (CST/Local US time) the same day.
The return flight AI-108 from Chicago to Hyderabad will operate every Wednesday, leaving Chicago at 2130 hrs (CST/Local US Time) and land in Hyderabad at 0140 hrs (IST).
Air India will operate B777-200LR aircraft and cover the 13,293 KM in 16 hours 45 minutes while flying from Hyderabad to ORD and take 15 hours 40 minutes to cover the return journey.
"This new non-stop service has been on our connectivity wish list for quite some time. We are delighted that our very own national carrier Air India has commenced this service to bring the two destinations closer for all our passengers, who were waiting eagerly for a direct flight from Hyderabad to the US," said Pradeep Panicker, CEO, GHIAL.
"On behalf of Mayor Lightfoot and the city of Chicago, I am proud to inaugurate the first-ever direct flight between the United States and Hyderabad -- one of India's fastest growing cities and a centre of innovation," said Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Commissioner Jamie L Rhee.
"The connection with Hyderabad will generate an estimated $22 million per year in economic impact for Chicago, in addition to serving Chicago's large South-Asian population, the second-largest in the US," she added.
"A strong connectivity with India's centre of innovation is not only exciting for business in Chicago, but also prove to be a fruitful asset for our partners conducting business throughout North America," said Michael Fassnacht, Interim President and CEO at World Business Chicago.
Hyderabad-USA-Hyderabad has been the largest unserved market between India and the US, with over 7,40,000 passengers annually. Hyderabad is a gateway to south and central India, and a preferred and the largest transit hub.
It offers convenient proximity for passengers originating from the nearby cities like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar, Rajahmundry, Bhopal, and Tirupati with an additional demand of approximately 2,20,000 passengers annually.