Friday, August 04, 2017

AI’s Varanasi-Colombo maiden flight takes wing

Varanasi: One of country's top tourist destinations, Varanasi, will be connected with a direct flight with Colombo from Friday, firming up the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit that will bring popular destinations like Sarnath and Kushinagar closer to the people of the island nation.
Fulfilling a promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his visit to Sri Lanka in May this year, Air India will fly 180-seater Airbus 320-Neo, for the all-economy class flights twice a week, Fridays and Sundays, airline spokesman Dhananjay Kumar said here on Thursday.
Air-India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani will flag off the inaugural flight from the Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport at 12.35 pm, Kumar added. Addressing a gathering in Colombo on May 12, Modi's announcement about a direct flight to Varanasi had generated considerable excitement among Sri Lankan Buddhists as well as the tourism sector in his Lok Sabha constituency. Sarnath near Varanasi, where the Buddha gave his first sermon in the Deer Park, is one of the most revered Buddhist pilgrimages, as is Kushinagar where the Buddha is believed to have attained Nirvana.
04/08/17 Rajeev Dikshit/Times of India