It was Deepawali (the Indian festival of lights) at Gate C 14 at Newark Liberty as passengers were welcomed with garlands and the hostesses applied red “tilaks” on their foreheads. There were diyas (small lamps) lit up all over, clay elephants and the gate area was dressed up like an Indian bride. There was fun and a festive air with sweets and palm readers and the “mendhi lady” decorating the ladiesï¿½ palms with henna tattoos.
The inaugural Continental Airlines nonstop Newark to Delhi, India flight was flagged off on the very auspicious Indian holy day of Deepawali. The flight was seen off at Newark by David Hilfman Senior VP Global Sales Continental Airlines and the pilot was Ralph Omann. “Continental will be making history by linking these two great nations with nonstop flights for the first time” said Jeff Smisek, President of Continental Airlines.
“The nonstop flights between New York and New Delhi will be welcomed by the increasing number of travelers between the two countries and give a boost to business and tourism” said Neelam Deo, Consul General of India, New York.
The flight has the full support of the Indo American and the Indian business community said Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia. Consul General of India to Houston, Sri ShashiShekhar M Gavai also sent his greetings to the Houston based Continental Airlines said Ahluwalia who is a founding member of the Houston based IACCGH. He said ever since the Chamber was founded in 1999 they had been approaching Continental Airlines to fly to India thru then President of Rice University Dr. Malcolm Gillis. The then Chairman of Continental Airlines, Mr. Gordon Bethune had assured the Chamber they would examine the request He also said that if we kept reminding them they would start the flight to India when the time was right. It was indeed a proud day for the Indo American Community that our own Houston based Continental took the historic First Step with nonstop flights between India and the US. He assured the airline the support of the Indo American business community to make the Delhi route so successful, that flying to Mumbai and other Indian Cities nonstop from the USA would be the natural next step.
Ahluwalia was pleased that Confederation of Indian Chambers’ US based Senior Director Kiran Pasricha shared his enthusiasm for this new flight. Pasricha felt that the rising business opportunity that India offers has created a demand for business class seats and was happy that Continental has started their new non stop flight. Kiran said that she was impressed by the flight time and said it shaved a day off the busy businessman’s schedule at both ends just because of the departure and arrival times. Pasricha feels that for the businessman, always pressed for time, it seems like finding an extra day to do business. Ahluwalia remarked that the flight departs before the fog starts messing up the winter schedules (usually for flights departing /arriving after midnight in Delhi.) and this would lead to more on time arrivals and departures.
Hema Zaveri and Vesaka Hussain Pathak of the very powerful Washington based US India Business Council joined Ahluwalia and Pasricha with Continental’s President Jeff Smisek on the historic Inaugural flight on Nov 1st.
Continental has entered into an agreement with the Taj Group of Hotels of India that allows guests staying at Taj Properties the opportunity to earn Continental OnePass Miles.
In the picture:
David Hilfman Senior VP Global Sales Continental Airlines,
Kiran Pasricha Sr Director USA of CII
Hema Zaveri and Vesaka Hussain Pathak of Washington based USIBC
Continental Airlines President Jeff Smisek
IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia
Join hands and wish the new flight a great start a few minutes before the inaugural takeoff from Newark on Deepawali Day, Nov 1st 2005