~ New air route estimated to bring nearly $30 million to capital region~
Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced that Air India will launch nonstop service between Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). The newly announced air route, which will offer three nonstop, roundtrip flights per week, is estimated to bring in an additional 30,000 tourist and business travelers and $30 million in total economic impact annually to the National Capital Region (Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland). Air service from DEL to IAD will begin in early July of this year. Tourism marketing support will be provided by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Capital Region USA (CRUSA), and Destination DC.
“Today, we celebrate a new bridge between India and the Capital Region, showing that Virginia will continue to be open and welcoming to all international travelers,” said Governor McAuliffe, who met with Air India executives and recruited the company to Dulles during the November 2015 trade and marketing mission to India. “The Commonwealth has made a significant commitment to growing our relationship with India in recent years and we are proud to be a new United States market with nonstop service from New Delhi. I look forward to welcoming many travelers, students, and business leaders to the Commonwealth through this new partnership.”
“Now, more than ever, we celebrate D.C. values as we continue to embrace the international community and showcase the inclusiveness of the nation’s capital,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, speaking about the announcement. “This exciting opportunity will also be a significant driver of tourism and business in Washington, D.C. for years to come.”
In 2015, the Capitol Region welcomed more than 122,000 visitors from India, more than a 25 percent increase from 2014 visitation figures, making India the fourth largest overseas market. By 2020, arrivals from India to the U.S. are projected to increase by nearly 7 percent, making India the ninth overseas market for the U.S. Visitation to the Capital Region from India is expected to double by 2025.
“Today’s announcement is another victory from our strategic efforts to promote the Commonwealth during our international trade and marketing missions,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “India is one of Virginia’s top emerging overseas tourism markets, with visitation increasing by 11 percent between 2010 and 2015. Air India’s nonstop flights between New Delhi and Dulles provide Virginia an opportunity to increase tourist visits from India, as well as enhance our ability to recruit new foreign direct investment opportunities.”
Governor McAuliffe proposed a $1.25 million incentive package over a three-year period beginning in FY18 to support Air India and stimulate travel to Virginia through Washington Dulles International Airport. In addition, the District of Columbia plans to provide $250,000 this year to support the partnership.
“Air India plans to add 35 new aircraft in 2017 as part of its current expansion and consolidation strategy, allowing us to serve both new domestic and international destinations. The Washington, D.C. metro area will become Air India’s fifth U.S. getaway after New Year, Newark, Chicago, and San Francisco, and reinforces our commitment to providing the most convenient service between the USA and India,” commented Ashwani Lohani, Chairman & Managing Director, Air India Limited.
“The addition of nonstop flights from Dulles International to India is a huge ‘win’ for business and leisure travelers alike,” said Jack Potter, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. “The new nonstop capital-to-capital service on Air India will open a new level of convenience and connectivity between our two nations.”