Kempegowda International Airport or BLR Airport in India has welcomed the first Air India flight 176 from San Francisco in the US after the commencement of the new route between Bengaluru (BLR) and San Francisco (SFO).

The airport has now become the first airport in southern India to have a non-stop flight to the US.

With a distance of nearly 14,000km, the BLR-SFO non-stop is the longest route to be run by Air India (AI) and any US carrier.

Despite the pandemic, the maiden flight from San Francisco was fully booked.

The airport said that the flights will fly twice a week in the route, which also happens to be among the top ten longest routes globally, in terms of distance flown.

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) managing director and CEO Hari Marar said: “It is a historic day for us at BLR Airport as we now have a non-stop route that connects two cities renowned for their technology prowess across the world.

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“This fulfils a long pending demand of Bangaloreans and I am confident that this new route will further transform BLR by connecting people and businesses. At BIAL, we will continue to explore new routes that connect Bengaluru to key destinations across the world.”

The new route will allow faster and easier entrance to cities on the West Coast of the US.

In a separate development, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has given in-principle approval to extend the runway of Madurai Airport in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which will also accomodate an underpass on the Ring Road for road traffic.

The construction cost has been estimated at $108m.

Earlier, the proposal to construct the underpass had been rejected by AAI.