People in Black - The Mangalorean.com Team - Oman (Joachim D'Souza, Melanie Tauro, Jaya Ramesh, Shaly Pereira, Deepak Pereira)
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Muscat Feb 15: Air India Express flight from Muscat to Mangalore was flagged off in style at the Seeb International Airport today.
Two prominent counters specially allocated for the maiden flight were opened at 2:45 pm. Six Mangalorean children dressed in the traditional costumes representing the Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities of Mangalore greeted the passengers as they left the check in counters. Each passenger was sprinkled with rose water, given a token gift and a mithai laddoo as they left with their boarding passes. There was a general air of festivity in the otherwise uninteresting departure lounge. The passengers were seen busy congratulating each other with smiles on their faces.
The first passengers who checked in on the Muscat-Mangalore sector - Mr. Shivananda & Mrs. Bhagyalakshmi Bhandarkar and their children Adhokshaj and Aditi. (from Sohar)
As a special gesture from Air India, all the passengers were given an official AI certificate that proudly stated in writing – “You are a part of history.” A slot was left in the middle of the certificate for every passenger to attach their boarding pass.
All the special invitees were then ushered into the CIP (Commercially Important Persons) lounge and the inaugural function began at 4:45 pm. The dignitaries were:
H.E. Ashok Kumar Attri, Indian Ambassador
Mr. Thripati, Counsular General, Indian Embassy
Director General of Civil Aviation, Abdul Rahim Al Harmi
Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation Mr. Rashid Al Kiyumi
Mr. F.J. Vaz, Regional Director - Gulf, Middle East & Africa
Mrs. S. Pancharatnam, Country Manager, Air India Express Oman
The Mangalorean community in Oman was represented by Chris Amy Vaz, Pithamber Alke, Vincent Machado, Ashok Suvarna, Benedict Pereira, Donald Pinto, Ramesh Shettigar, A.J. Rao, Shaukat Assadi and S.K. Poojary.
Air India Express Country Manager Mrs. S. Pancharatnam welcomed the guests and spoke about the age old relations between India and the Sultanate of Oman. She said Air India connected to six Gulf States and had 58 operations per week. She express her pride and happiness in the growth of the airline and congratulated all who had helped to make this happen.
The traditional lamp was then lit by Chief Guest, Indian Ambassador to Oman Mr. Ashok Kumar Attri, The DG Civil Aviation, Mr. Abdul Rahim Al Harmi, Deputy DG Mr. Rashid Al Kiyumi and Mr. F.J. Vaz, Regional Director - Gulf, Middle East & Africa.
Mr. F.J. Vaz presented bouquets and mementoes to both the Mr. Attri and Mr. Al Harmi.
It was then the Ambassador’s turn to say a few words. Mr. Attri congratulated Mr. F.J. Vaz and the AI team and wished them luck. He said at the fast pace with which AI Express was growing, they would surely become maharajas of the air soon. He also thanked in a special way the Government of Oman, especially the DG Civil Aviation and his team. He also mentioned that the Chief Minister of Karnataka on his visit to Oman had discussed the prospects of this flight with the Omani Government. Mr. Attri said this destination will be useful not only for travelers but also for business, especially now that a multi billion dollar project was being planned in the coastal region
A magnificent 5 kgs Marguerita cake was then cut by Mr. Al Harmi and Mr. Attri. The cake was decorated in the traditional colours of Oman, India and Air India express – that is green, red and white and saffron. It also had both the Oman and India national flags etched out in marzipan.
Mrs. Pancharathnam then formally introduced Mr. F.J. Vaz as a dynamic man who had recently taken over the mantel of Regional Director for the Gulf, Middle East and Africa.
Mr. Vaz addressed the formal gathering and said that it was a red letter day in the young life of Air India Express today as in a very short time it had grown very fast. Yet he said the future success of AI would depend on the travelers. Even though at present there were only two flights a week, the frequency could be increased depending on the demand from the passengers. He congratulated the Mangaloreans in Muscat and said it was because of their cooperation and unity that this flight was made possible. As a parting shot, he said “If you want to increase the number of flights from-to this destination, it is all up to you. You give us the number and we’ll give you the flights.
The Air India Station Manager in Muscat, Mr. S. Rajeshekaran then gave the vote of thanks on behalf of Air India.
Mr. Donald Pinto, a very prominent and highly respected Mangalorean in Muscat then gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the Mangalorean community in Muscat. He thanked the Ambassador, the Air India Express officials and staff and on behalf of Chris Amy Vaz he extended a special thanks to the Civil Aviation official,Oman Air and Oman Aviation officials for their cooperation and complete support.
An impressive variety of snacks and drinks were served at the CIP lounge specially catered for by Oman Air catering. The impeccable arrangements were overseen by Mr. David Fernandes, Food and Beverage Manager, Oman Air.
The dignitaries proceeded to the departure lounge where they had a special draw for the lucky boarding pass. Saddique Mohamad from Suratkal turned out to be the lucky passenger of the day and he won a free AI ticket to any destination in India.
The dignitaries then went to the tarmac to cut the ribbon. Only dignitaries and a section of the press were allowed to go near the departure gate due to security restrictions. A red ribbon was tied across the ladder leading to the aircraft entrance. The ribbon was cut by Attri, the Ambassador. Dr. B.R. Shetty came down to meet the dignitaries.
Following this the boarding of the passengers was announced. Once the passengers were on board, Chris Vaz introduced both the Captains to Dr. B.R. Shetty and to all the passengers. The passenger applauded conveying their appreciation for the crew. Dr. B.R. Shetty then introduced Chris Vaz to the passengers and thanked her for all her efforts in getting the Mangaloreans together in Muscat. After the function Chris was specially called to the Air India office where she was felicitated by the Regional Director- Air India, Country Manager- Air India Muscat and all the other Air India staff. The Regional Director spoke on behalf of Air India and thanked Chris for her selfless efforts and asked her to continue to mobilize support from all the Mangaloreans for the airline.
Chris Vaz felicitated by Air India Officials
Meanwhile, with Captain Parikh giving the thumbs up sign, Mr. Attri, along with all the other dignitaries present there, officially flagged off the first maiden flight from Muscat to Mangalore.
Three cheers to all the Mangaloreans in Muscat. May we have many more flights to our hometown soon.
Official Ribbon Cutting and Flagging off the Flight by Dignitaries
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