STATE carrier Air India is marking 70 years since its first flight took off from Mumbai to London in June 1948. The national carrier has invited members of the Indian diaspora in Britain to share their memories of the airline in its early days. The inaugural flight, on a Super Constellation aircraft, left Mumbai on June 8 and arrived in London via Cairo and Geneva on June 10. Only 42 passengers were on board, including some Indian ‘nawabs’ (aristocrats) and ‘maharajas’ (kings). Later this month, Air India is preparing to mark the historic journey, which laid the foundations of the India-UK relationship 70 years ago. “We want to reach out to people who would have made some of these early journeys to share their memories and pictures,” said Debashis Golder, Air India regional manager UK and Europe. “Many of these journeys will mark the arrival of Indians who went on to make their life and fortunes in the UK. It marks an important chapter in the India-UK relationship,” he said. The UK market is among the airline’s busiest sectors, having recently added three direct flights between Birmingham and Amritsar. “This was a long-standing demand and the route is doing well, especially as it falls within the religious tourism segment culminating at Golden Temple in Amritsar,” Golder added. “In addition, Indians now settled in the UK for years, visit their home state frequently to stay connected to their roots. The direct connection has certainly proved popular.”
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