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The Hyderabad International Airport on Wednesday announced that national carrier Air India would fly non-stop from Hyderabad to Chicago, USA, starting from 15 January next year.

Before to the suspension of international operations in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the disinvestment-bound Air India was operating to Chicago from the city airport via the national capital.

In a press release, the GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd said that Air India would be starting the flight between Hyderabad and Chicago effective January 15, 2021. The airline would deploy its 238-seater Boeing 777-200 aircraft with eight seats in first class, 35 in business and the remaining 195 in the economy class, it added.

The Telugu diaspora from the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh regions is one of the fastest growing community in the US and a direct connectivity to the US from Hyderabad was long due, it said.

Hyderabad-USA-Hyderabad has been the largest unserved passenger origin and destination (O&D) market between India and the US with a potential of over 7,00,000 passengers annually, the release said. With the city being the gateway to South and central India, it offers convenient proximity for passengers originating from the nearby cities in the region, pushing an additional demand of approximately 2,20,000 passengers annually, it said.

"The launch of this route brings two destinations closer for all our passengers who have been waiting eagerly for a direct flight from Hyderabad to the USA. We are constantly working on linking more cities domestic and international with focus on high standards of safety to serve our passengers," said CEO, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd., Pradeep Panicker.

Hyderabad is second home to many US-based firms and as much as 70% of the total IT exports to the US is from Hyderabad, said the release, adding that the city is known as the Pharma Capital of India and a vaccine manufacturing hub of India.

The govt started the 'Vande Bharat Mission' on May this year to help those stranded due to the Covid-19 pandemic reach their destinations via international repatriation flights.

As per the Civil Aviation Ministry, 10,660 repatriation flights were operated by the Air India Group under the Vande Bharat Mission till 5 December, carrying more than 13.82 lakh passengers. Of these, 5,328 were inbound flights carrying 8,60,012 passengers and 5,332 were outbound flights with 5,22,984 fliers.

The mission is currently in Phase 7 which will continue until 28 March next year.

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