It is Asia’s 16th largest airline with hubs at Indira Gandhi International Airport and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. By summer 2011, Air India will be a member of Star Alliance.
J.R.D. Tata started Air India as Tata Airlines. A single engine De Havilland Puss Moth carrying air mail was operated on 15 October 1932 from Karachi to Bombay via Ahmedabad. The continuation was to Madras via Bellary. Initially, Air India had only one pilot and 2 apprentice mechanics with2 piston engine aircrafts- Puss Moth and Leopard Moth.
After the Second World War, Tata Airlines became a public limited company on 29 July 1946 under the name Air India. After India got Independence, 49% of the airline was bought by the Government of India. Air India was granted status to run international flights under the name Air India International. The airline’s first long-haul international flight L-749A was operated on 8 June 1948, from Bombay bound for London via Cairo and Geneva. In 1950 flights to Nairobi via Aden were operated. In 1953, domestic services were transferred to Indian Airlines. In 1954, the airline inaugurated services to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.
In 1960, Air India International put an entry into the Jet Age. The first Boeing 707-420 was delivered in 1960. On 14 May 1960, jet services to New York City via London were launched. The airline’s name was again Air India on 8 June 1962. Air India became the first all-jet airline in the world on 11 June 1962.
Air India’s largest operator in passenger service Airbus A310-300 was delivered in 1986. In 1988, two Boeing 747-300Ms in mixed passenger-cargo configuration was delivered.
In 1993, the first Boeing 747-400 operated between New York City and Delhi. The airline was registered as Air India Ltd. in 1994. The inauguration of Air India’s second US gateway at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago took place in 1996. The airline opened its Terminal 2-C at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai.
Air India opened services to Shanghai in 2000. The airline also inaugurated its third US gateway at Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark. Air India commenced Air-India Express – a wholly-owned low cost airline in May 2004. The airline connected India with the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent.
In 2004, Air India launched its fourth gateway at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles which was expanded for operations to operate flights from Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Air India opened services to its fifth US gateway at Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.
Air India merged with Indian in 2007. The merger faced financial crisis and still restructuring plans are currently going on.
On 1 March 2009, Frankfurt Airport at Frankfurt am Main was made the international hub for operations from India to United States. Air India chief, Arvind Jadhav on July 14, 2010 announced it’s the intention of the airline to make the new terminal at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Air India offers First, Business and Economic Class services to passengers.
Thales Top Series IFE systems are used in Air India’s Boeing 777-200LR/-300ER and Boeing 747-400 aircraft. Widescreen displays are available in Business and Economy classes on Airbus A330s.
Air India’s frequent flyer programme ‘Flying Returns’ is shared by Air India passengers and all other NACIL carriers.
Some of the prestigious awards won by Air India
- Awaz Consumer Awards 2006 – Preferred International Airline award for travel and hospitality
- Galileo Express TravelWorld Award – Best International West Bound Airline out of India, Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Best Short-AHul International Airline(2008)
- The Mercury Award – 1994, 2003 for finest in-flight catering services
- Amity Corporate Excellence Award for distinct vision, innovation, competitiveness and sustenance.
- Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Award
- Cargo Airline of the Year – 26th Cargo Airline of the Year Awards
- World’s first all-jet airline- June 1962
- World’s largest operator of Airbus A310-300