From Seattle to Mumbai on Jet Airways’ first Boeing 737

FlightPlan offers a new column on the milestone moments in the life of aviation stalwarts. Here’s the first one off the runway

Of all the memories that Suresh Nair, General Manager, Air Asia Berhad, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, has collected in his close-to-four-decades-long career in civil aviation, the ones he remembers the most are those that also marked milestone moments in aviation history.

And why not? Nair has witnessed some momentous moments in aviation, both in India and abroad. The man who set up Delta Airlines’ operations in Dubai in 2001 cannot help but recall the time when he was one of the four officials to fly back to Mumbai from Seattle on the delivery aircraft of the first Boeing 737 which Jet Airways purchased in 1996. Nair who was then General Manager, North India, Nepal and Pakistan with Jet, talks of the landmark delivery as Jet was the first airline to buy the aircraft four decades after Parliament nationalised all airlines to create Air India and in 1993 amended the Air Corporation Act to allow private airlines in the India aviation space. Other private airlines like Damania and East West Airlines started operations before Jet but this Mumbai-based airline was the first to buy a new aircraft in four decades of Indian aviation (the others leased them).

Recalls Nair, “After the signing ceremony (which took place after all the funds for the aircraft had been transferred) between Jet Airways and Boeing officials in a terminal building at the air strip in Seattle, Jet was given a symbolic key.”

A cool idea

The journey back on the new aircraft was 36 hours long and Saroj Datta, Executive Director, Jet Airways, Nair and another colleague flew from Seattle to Montreal to Gander to Keflavik, a city 40 miles from the capital of Iceland to Amsterdam to Larcana to Abu Dhabi before touching down in Mumbai to a grand reception.

What Nair remembers most about the flight is that the beer on board was warm till Datta came up with a practical suggestion. It was snowing in Montreal and he asked Nair to bury some of the warm bottles in the snow. “I put some 4 to 6 bottles in the snow which cooled them off a lot,” he laughs.

Another special memory of that occasion is the exclusive wine bottle that was presented to him which had the Jet Airways logo and 737;400 written on it.

All the President’s men

Nair’s five-year tenure with Jet also saw him on a Jet aircraft accompanying the White House press party travelling with visiting US President Bill Clinton on the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Hyderabad leg before ending the journey in Mumbai. Since the US press aircraft (hired from Jet Airways) accompanying the President took off before the Presidential aircraft, with Air Force 1 landing about 30 minutes after the press aircraft, Nair got a chance to see the American President’s security drill first-hand — snipers on all tall buildings, sniffer dogs and burly secret service and security staff everywhere. He recalls that a Hercules military jet would land ahead of Air Force 1 carrying the Presidential limousine.

Nair also has to his credit setting up 10 stations in North India for Jet Airways including those in Srinagar, Jaipur, Varanasi and Khajuraho. “Srinagar was started at the height of tensions. No hotels were open in Srinagar so I would stay at the government guest house with Mufti Sahib staying in the room next to me,” he recalls. While in Srinagar, Nair travelled by a “BP.” “It’s a bullet-proof car with gun-toting security personnel for company,” he explains with a smile.

In 2001, Nair, who did his MBA from the Cochin University School of Management Studies, decided to quit Jet and move to Dubai where he joined Saraf Travels to launch Delta’s Dubai flight. Under Nair, Delta was the first American Airline after Pan American Airlines to launch operations to the Middle East. The flight started a few months after Nair joined with the then Delta President flying down on the inaugural flight.

Unfortunately global events like 9/11 happened and the turmoil which followed made Delta pull out of Dubai. Nair, though, stayed back for some more time but eventually returned to India less than 18 months after he had left. This was when the bug to do something new, like launching new sectors for new airlines, bit Nair. He joined Air Asia Berhard and convinced the Malaysian airline to start operations between Kuala Lumpur and Tiruchirapalli. This was the first of the 12 stations to which the airline started flights in India.

“I felt there was an ethnic connect between the people of Tamil Nadu and Malaysia, so I put up a case for starting the flight,” Nair says. He obviously knows what he is talking about because now AirAsia Berhad has four daily flights on this route.

About author

TnH Global
TnH Global 4048 posts

Our platform is the most comprehensive, current and accurate content destination for tourism that also offers the opportunity to connect and network with quality buyers and sellers.

Name: TnH Global              Email:

You might also like

The feast of the Epiphany in Goa to start from January 6

The feast of the Epiphany, also known as the Three Kings Feast, which is celebrated in Goa starts from January 6th. A very popular event in Goa is the Feast


Air India shirks safety rules at Leh

Air India put the lives of its passengers at risk by not adhering to set operational rules at Leh airport, one of the most unsafe in the country. The matter

Airbus bumps up plane prices for 2017

Airbus has increased the average list prices of its aircraft by one percent across the product line, effective from January. This price increase has been calculated according to Airbus’ standard

Aviation partners with Air India to power its online accommodation offering, one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies and digital technology leader, has partnered with Air India to offer the airline’s customers access to over 28.9 million accommodation listings, including


Discover Goa – Pearl of the Orient

Beautifully located on the western coast of India, Goa is one of the most favorite tourist destinations in India. Enclosed by Arabian Sea in the west, Goa is blessed with


Air India records 20% growth in revenue

Air India has recorded a 20 per cent growth in revenue in March-April 2018 and has embarked on a route analysis exercise, focussing on increasing flying hours of each of


What a Year 2020 Has Been Till Now

By Manpreet Kaur People throughout the world are trying to figure out if they should be happy or sad to see time pass by slowly in 2020 as they sit


Ethiopian to launch A350 operation to Mumbai

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and the leading Pan-African airline group proudly announces that all is set to launch Africa’s first Ethiopian Airbus A350 -900 XWB on the Addis Ababa Mumbai


Taiwan Tourism Bureau kicks off 2016 with a multi-city workshop

Taiwan Tourism Bureau held educational multi-city workshops for the travel fraternity and the media in Kolkata on 25th March, Bangalore on 28th March and in Mumbai on 30th March, 2016.


UNICEO announces its 2018 European Congress

UNICEO – United Networks of International Corporate Event Organizers is the international association bringing together senior decision-makers in charge of corporate events representing major companies and associations internationally. UNICEO European Congress will take place in


Indian Railways considering Metro-like self-propelled trains for high-speed corridors

The Indian Railways is exploring the idea of using self-propelled trains like those used in Metro systems to realise its high-speed corridor dream. Racing against time to bring a network


Thomas Cook India targets long weekend getaways, launches unique packages for Domestic and International travel

~Thomas Cook India reveals the finest places to explore on the 3 long weekends in April~ Thomas Cook India reveals that Indian travellers have made a shift from single annual


No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!