Governor Terry McAuliffe was back at Dulles Airport today, this time to celebrate a new connection with the Muslim world.
Air India is launching nonstop service between Indira Gandhi International Airport and Dulles with three roundtrip flights per week. The direct flights begin this summer.
McAuliffe said they would connect the world’s biggest democracy, India, with the world’s oldest, Virginia.
“We will be part of the success story of Virginia,” Air India Director of Commercial Pankaj Srivastana said.
McAuliffe contrasted this deal, linking Virginia and the DC area to India—which he said will hold the world’s largest Muslim population by 2050—with President Donald J. Trump’s executive order temporary banning travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries and indefinitely suspending entry by Syrian refugees.
India is not among the seven countries facing tighter travel restrictions, and is not a Muslim majority country; nearly 80 percent of Indians are Hindu.
The governor, who denounced the president’s immigration restrictions at the airport Sunday, said he believed the order is a “bad message” that violates several clauses of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and will be overturned by the courts.
“I think it’s very bad for national security,” McAuliffe said. “I think it has put a target on our men and women in uniform who are serving abroad. I believe ISIS is using it for a recruiting tool. I believe it’s horrible economically.
“In Virginia alone, we have already had two instances where folks were coming here for site visits on advanced manufacturing and agriculture trips who have cancelled. Not from those seven countries—they just didn’t want to come to America.”
The Air India flights are projected to bring in an additional 30,000 tourist and business travelers and $30 million annually to the National Capital Region. Tourism marketing support will be provided by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Capital Region USA, and Destination DC.