Air India

Air India

Infobox Airline
airline = Air India

logo_size = 280
callsign = AIR INDIA
parent = NACIL
company_slogan = "Your Palace in the Sky"
founded = 1932 (as Tata Airlines)
key_people = Raghu Menon, Chairman & Managing Director
Amod Sharma, Director
headquarters = Mumbai, India
hubs =

*Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport ("primary hub")
*Indira Gandhi International Airport ("secondary hub")
*Chennai International Airport ("secondary hub")

focus_cities =

*Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport
*Raja Sansi International Airport
*London Heathrow Airport

transit_hubs =

*Frankfurt am Main Airport
*London Heathrow Airport
*Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport

frequent_flyer = Flying Returns
lounge = Maharajah Lounge
alliance = Star Alliance (future)
fleet_size = 149 (+ 68 Orders) incl.subsidiaries
subsidiaries =

*Air India Express
*Air India Regional
*Air India Cargo
*Indian Airlines

destinations = 97 incl.subsidiaries
Mascot = Maharaja
website =

Air India Limited [ [ Air India Limited: Private Company Information - BusinessWeek ] ] ( _hi. एअर इंडिया) is the national airline of India with a worldwide network of passenger and cargo services. Air India is state-owned, and administered as part of the National Aviation Company of India Limited - which was created in 2007 to facilitate Air India's merger with Indian Airlines. [cite web|url=|title=Air India and Indian merger attains official status|publisher=Air India|date=2007-08-23|accessdate=2007-10-27] The main base of operations of the airline are Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Air India has codeshare agreements with 12 other international airlines [] and connects over 130 destinations worldwide, including twelve gateways in India. It is also expected to formally join the Star Alliance in March 2009. [ [ Air India's integration into Star Alliance may take longer - ] ]

Air India is wholly-owned by the government of India. However, it plans to sell 10-15% of its stake in the airline by 2008 to fund Air India's global expansion plans. [] Increasing domestic competition and rising fuel prices resulted in Air India seeking US$458 million from the Indian government in the form of soft loans and fresh equity. [] As of September 2008, Air India has raised US$3 billion to fund the ongoing modernization and expansion of its fleet. [] After dominating Indian skies for years, Air India is now the second largest airline in India in terms of passengers carried after Jet Airways and is followed closely by Kingfisher Airlines. [] In terms of domestic market share, it is the third largest behind Jet Airways (including subsidiary Jet Lite) and Kingfisher Airlines (including subsidiary Kingfisher Red). []


Air India was founded by J. R. D. Tata in 1932 as Tata Airlines, a division of Tata Sons Ltd. (now Tata Group). On 15 October 1932, J. R. D. Tata himself flew a single-engined De Havilland Puss Moth carrying air mail (postal mail of Imperial Airways) from Karachi's Drigh Road Aerodrome to Bombay's Juhu Airstrip via Ahmedabad. The aircraft continued to Madras via Bellary piloted by former Royal Air Force pilot Nevill Vintcent.

Following the end of World War II, regular commercial service was restored in India and Tata Airlines became a public limited company on 29 July 1946 under the name Air India. In 1948, after the Independence of India, 49% of the airline was acquired by the Government of India, with an option to purchase an additional 2%. In return, the airline was granted status to operate international services from India as the designated flag carrier under the name "Air India International". On 8 June 1948, a Lockheed Constellation L-749A named "Malabar Princess" and registered VT-CQP took off from Bombay bound for London via Cairo and Geneva. This marked the airline's first long-haul international flight, soon followed by service in 1950 to Nairobi via Aden.

On 1 August 1953, the Government of India exercised its option to purchase a majority stake in the carrier and Air India International Limited was born as one of the fruits of the Air Corporations Act that nationalised the air transportation industry. At the same time all domestic services were transferred to Indian Airlines. In 1954, the airline took delivery of its first L-1049 Super Constellations and inaugurated services to Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Air India International entered the jet age in 1960 when its first Boeing 707, named "Nandadevi" and registered VT-DJJ, was delivered. Jet services to New York via London were inaugurated that same year in May 1960. On 8 June 1962, the airline's name was officially truncated to Air India. On 11 June 1962, Air India became the world's first all-jet airline.


In 1970, Air India moved its offices to downtown Mumbai / Bombay. The next year, the airline took delivery of its first Boeing 747-237B named "Emperor Ashoka" and registered VT-EBD. This coincided with the introduction of the 'Palace In The Sky' livery and branding. A distinctive feature of this livery is the paintwork around each aircraft window, in the cusped arch style of windows in Indian palaces. In 1986 Air India took delivery of the Airbus A310-304; the airline is the largest operator of this type in passenger service. In 1988, Air India also took delivery of two Boeing 747-337Ms in mixed passenger-cargo configuration. In 1989, to supplement its "Flying Palace" livery, Air India introduced a new "sun" [] livery that was mostly white but had a golden sun on a red tail. Only applied to around a half of Air India's fleet, the new livery did not succeed, as the Indian flying public complained about the phasing out of the classic colours. The new livery was dropped after two years and the old scheme was returned. Since then, Air India has been hesitant to radically change the paint scheme, instead opting for minor updates and face lifts.

In 1993, Air India took delivery of the flagship of its fleet when the first Boeing 747-437 named "Konark" and registered VT-ESM made history by operating the first non-stop flight between New York and Delhi. In 1994 the airline was registered as Air India Ltd. In 1996, the airline inaugurated service to its second US gateway at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. In 1999, the airline opened its dedicated Terminal 2-C at the newly renamed Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.

In 2000, Air India introduced new services to Shanghai, as well as to Los Angeles and Newark. On May 2004, Air India launched a wholly-owned low cost airline called Air India Express. Air India Express has been connecting ciries in India with several cities in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent. Air India expanded its international routes to include non-stop flights from Ahmedabad and also expanded its international operations from Bangalore and Hyderabad.

On 8 March 2004, International Women's Day, the airline operated an "All Women Flight" from Mumbai to Singapore. [ [ All-women crew on AI] ] Captain Rashmi Miranda, who became Air-India's first female Commander in November 2003 and Captain Kshmata Bajpai piloted the flight, an Airbus A310 aircraft. The flight dispatch activities relating to this flight were also coordinated by a female Flight Dispatcher, Vasanti Kolnad. The Safety Audit on board was also conducted by another woman, Harpreet D Singh. The airline has seventeen female pilots, including five trainee pilots.

In 2007, the Government announced that Air India would be merged with Indian Airlines. As part of the merger process, a new company called the National Aviation Company of India Limited (or NACIL) was established, into which both Air India (along with Air India Express) and Indian Airlines (along with Air India Regional) has been merged. [ [] ] Once the merger is complete, the new airline - which will continue to be called Air India - will also continue to be headquartered in Mumbai.

The Star Alliance announced on 13 December 2007 that it had invited Air India to join as a member. [ Air India joins Star Alliancendash The Hindu] [ Air India to join Star Alliance] Air India is set to become a full Star Alliance member in 2009.


Air India has the following subsidiaries:
* Air India Cargo, a separate division provides air cargo services with a dedicated fleet.
* Air India Express which operates using IATA code IX


Air India by itself serves 35 destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Together with its subsidiaries and related carriers, the Group connects over 130 destinations worldwide.

For an overview of all destinations covered by the four NACIL carriers, see:

For a list of destinations served by the other three carriers, see:

For freighter destinations, see:


Although new aircraft are delivered in the new livery, and some route rationalisation and interchange has started, as of October 2008, each of the four subsidiaries maintain separate fleets:

*main|Indian Airlines
*main|Air India Cargo
*main|Air India Express
*main|Air India Regional

Air India itself regularly operates a fleet of 4 aircraft families, the Airbus A310,Airbus A330, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 consisting of the following aircraft as of August 2008:

Air India Express, the low cost subsidiary of Air India itself, has a fleet of 13 (+5 Orders) Boeing 737-8HG aircraft along with 7 leased Boeing 737-800s.

Indian Airlines has been merged with Air India,it has a fleet of 68 (+23 Orders) aircraft consisting of Airbus A319-112, Airbus A320-231 and Airbus A321-211.

The average age of the fleet is 10.8 years as of April 2008 (excluding freighter aircraft).

Fleet orders and changes


The first Boeing 777-237LR aircraft was delivered by Boeing to Air India on 26 July 2007. [cite news
url =
date = 2007-07-26
title = Boeing, Air India Celebrate First 777-200LR Delivery
accessdate = 2007-07-27
publisher = Boeing
] The Boeing 777-237LR is used on non-stop routes from India to the East Coast US. These, and other new aircraft are also expected to allow Air India to open up new routes to Australia, Canada, Europe, East Asia, Africa and the United States (Air India plans to add flights to additional cities in the United States, which include San Francisco and Washington. [cite news
url =
date = 2007-07-07
title = Air India links the two silicon valleys of India and US. Now you can fly straight from San Francisco to Bangalore
accessdate = 2007-08-31
publisher = India Daily
] ).Air India has also ordered 18 Boeing 737-8HG for its low cost subsidiary Air India Express, eight of which have been delivered. [cite news
url =
date = 2007-07-19
title = AI Express receives eighth Boeing 737-800
accessdate = 2007-07-30
publisher = The Economic Times

Air India may look to future fleet orders for further expansion. Air India looking to both Boeing and Airbus for these new fleet developments. The Boeing 777-337ER is designed to replace the Boeing 747-437 aircraft, the Boeing 777-237LR was introduced for ultra long-haul flights such as those to the USA East Coast.

The Boeing 787-837 aircraft currently on order are to replace its ageing fleet of Airbus A310-304 aircraft. As an interim measure, to overcome the Boeing 787 delays, it has leased Airbus A330-223 aircraft, however these aircraft are registered to Indian Airlines and operate to destinations such as Zurich and Singapore.

There has been no announcement whether Air India will order Very Large Aircraft (VLA) such as the Airbus A380-800 or Boeing 747-8.


*main|Air India's retired fleet


Air India's livery is mostly red and white. The bottom of the aircraft remains unpainted metal but the upper portion is given a white background with the airline's name in red. The name is in Devnagari script on one side and in English on the other. The red palace surround to the windows refer to the slogan "your palace in the sky" which is written on the back of the aircraft. Aircraft are named after Indian kings or landmarks. The tail is mostly red with the carrier's name written in Devnagari script on one side and English on the other.In January 2007, Air India refreshed its livery, making the Rajasthani arches along the windows slightly smaller, extending a stylised cheatline from the vertical tail of the aircraft to the nose, and painting a small portion of the underbelly red. Additionally, engine nacelles are now deep red, and a gold-colored version of the airline's stylised centaur trademark now adorns both the vertical tail and engine nacelles. This livery can be seen on Air India's first Boeing 777-237LR aircraft, registered VT-ALA. On 15 May 2007. the Government released [ [ PIB Press Release ] ] the new livery. The design is a cross between the Air India and Indian Airlines livery. The new livery has been showcased to the world on 17 July 2007 on its new Boeing 777-222 and, when Air India and Indian Airlines formally became one airline, and Indian Airlines came to be known as Air India. The old fleet of both airlines will also slowly be painted in the new livery.

On 22 May 2007, the Government and Air India and Indian Airlines unveiled their new livery. The logo of the new airline is a Flying Swan with the Konark Chakra placed inside it. The Flying Swan has been adapted from Air India’s characteristic logo, ‘The Centaur’ whereas the Konark Chakra is reminiscent of the Indian Airlines logo. The new logo is featured prominently on tail of the aircraft. The Konark Chakra is feature on all of the engines. The choices of colours are red for “Flying Swan” and orange for “Konark Chakra".

While the base colour for the new livery is ivory, Air India's characteristic red streat has been retained. Running parallel to each other are orange and red speed lines from the front door to the rear door, subtly signifying the individual identities merged into one. The brand name ‘Air India’ runs across the tail of the aircraft. A view of an A321-211 operated by Indian Airlines in the new livery [ here] .

Passenger operations

The airline carried 3.39 million passengers during the financial year ending March 2003 and achieved a load factor of 71.6 per cent, substantially higher than the 66 per cent load factor recorded in the preceding year. Air India offers three classes of servicendashFirst Class, Executive Class and Economy Class. Flat bed seats are offered for First and Executive Class passengers. Air India’s frequent flyer programme is called "Flying Returns" and is shared with Indian Airlines and other subsidiaries. Aside from flight mileage, members receive seat discounts, class upgrades, free hotel stays, and other benefits. The airline also offers luxury lounges in its ground terminals for its First and Executive class travelers in select destinations within India. Air India has duty free sales on board its flights, named "Sky Bazaar".

On Board

Boeing 747-400

Boeing 747-437 aircraft fly medium-long haul destinations such as London,Paris & Frankfurt. The average age of Air India Boeing 747-437 fleet is 13.9 years.

Boeing 747-437 aircraft are configured in a three class configuration. First class features a standard seat, with up to 180 degree recline. Business class is also a standard seat, with added recline and cushioning and can be compared to "regional" business class on most other international airlines. Economy class features 32 inch seat pitch.

Some Boeing 747-437 aircraft have undergone refurbishment, adding enhancements such as PTV with AVOD in all classes and improved seats in First and Business class. One aircraft Boeing 747-4H6, an Ex-Malaysia Airlines aircraft, features a lie flat seat with a 16inch PTV, Business class which has an angle flat bed with a 8.5 inch PTV, and economy class with 34 inch seat pitch and AVOD.

Boeing 777

Air India flies 777 aircraft to destinations such as Dubai, London, Paris, New York and Birmingham. The average age of Air India Boeing 777 fleet is 3.6 years. Air India operates several variants of the Boeing 777- the Boeing 777-222, Boeing 777-222ER, Boeing 777-237LR and Boeing 777-337ER.

Boeing 777-222 and Boeing 777-222ER are leased from United Airlines, and as such feature United Airlines interiors. All seats in all classes feature a Personal Television, and business class and first class are the older style, not lie-flat.

Air India's newly ordered fleet of Boeing 777-237LR and Boeing 777-337ER features Air India's brand new interiors. First class is a completely lie flat bed, with an 22 inch PTV with AVOD. The seat features in seat massage, USB ports and laptop power supply. Business class is the "shell" type and also converts into a flat seat. Business class features an 18 inch PTV with laptop power supply and USB ports. These 777 aircraft feature Air India's new economy class which features 33 inch seat pitch and a 10.6 inch PTV with AVOD.

Airbus A310-300

Air India's Airbus A310-304 fleet fly mainly to medium haul destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Middle East destinations. The average age of Air India's Airbus A310-300 fleet is 16.7 years.

Most Airbus A310-300 aircraft are Ex-Singapore Airlines aircraft and as such feature the older Singapore Airlines configuration. These aircraft are in a two class configuration. Business class is a standard seat with added recline. Economy class is also simply standard seats.

No PTV is offered on these aircraft.

Maharajah Lounge

"Maharajah Lounge" means "Emperor's Lounge", and is offered to First and Executive class passengers. Air India shares lounges with other airlines at airports that do not have a Maharajah Lounge available. There are 5 Maharajah Lounges, each at one of the five major destinations of Air India, which are as following:
* Chennai, India
* Delhi, India
* London, United Kingdom
* Mumbai, India
* New York, USAAir India is in talks with the operators of the Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad airports to setup lounges in the new terminals being constructed there.


As of July 2008, Air India has codesharing agreements with the following airlines [ [ Flying Returns : Alliance Partners : Code Share Partners ] ] :

*Aeroflot **
*Air France **
*Air Mauritius
*Austrian Airlines (SA)
*Emirates Airline
*Kuwait Airways
*Indian Airlines

*Lufthansa (SA)
*Malaysia Airlines
*Singapore Airlines (SA)
*Swiss International Airlines (SA)
*Thai Airways International (SA)
*Turkish Airlines (SA)

"With Air India's own entry into Star Alliance (SA) next year, code share and all other agreements through these Oneworld* and Sky Team** partners will be terminated by December 2009" [] .

Future challenges

India has the world's fastest growing airline industry. [ [ For India’s Airlines, Passengers Are Plentiful but Profits Are Scarce - New York Times ] ] However, increasing fuel prices resulted in a decline of 4% in air traffic in June 2008. [ [ Air traffic fell by 4% in June - ] ] Increasing competition of other major Indian carriers like Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines has also caused problems for Air India. Jet Airways is now the largest domestic carrier in India and Kingfisher Airlines has narrowed its gap with Air India in domestic market share. [ [
] In July 2008, it was reported that Air India was seeking US$534 million in aid from Indian government to cover its losses. [ [ India & Pakistan ] ] In the wake of rising fuel prices, the airline decided to hike its air fare in June 2008. []

Awards and Recognitions

*The airline entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest evacuation by a civil airliner. Over 111,000 people were evacuated from Amman to Mumbai ndash a distance of 4,117 km, by operating 488 flights in association with Indian Airlines, from 13 August to 11 October, 1990 ndash lasting 59 days. The operation was carried out during Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq.
*The airline received The Mercury Award for the years 1994 and 2003, from the International Flight Catering Association, for finest in-flight catering services.
*The United Nations presented Air India the Montreal Protocol Public Awareness Award for environmental protection, especially in the ozone layer. [ [ UN Environment Award for Air Indiandash India Airline News, Airport developments, Aviation, A380, B787, Kingfisher, Deccan, Jet Airways, Air India, Indian Airlines, Spicejet ] ]
*Air India won the "preferred international airline" award for travel and hospitality by Awaz Consumer Awards 2006 [ [ The Hindu : Business / Briefly : Air India bags Awaz consumer awards 2006 ] ]
* Air India's security department became the first aviation security organisation in the world to acquire ISO 9002 certification (31 January 31 2001).
* Air India's Department of Engineering has obtained the ISO 9002 for its Engineering facilities for meeting international standards.

Accidents and incidents

Since it commenced operations, four Air India flights have crashed including one due to a terrorist attack. Air India has a record of 6.82 fatalities per million flights on average. [cite web|url=|title=Accident Rates By Airline|]

*Air India Flight 101 crashed on Mont Blanc, on the border between France and Italy, killing 117 on 24 January 1966. Among the dead was the noted Indian scientist, Homi J. Bhabha.

*Air India Flight 855 "Ashoka" a Boeing 747-237B crashed into the Arabian Sea after takeoff from Sahar Airport (now Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport) in Bombay on 1 January 1978, killing all on board (213 persons; 190 passengers, 23 crew).

*On 21 June 1982 a Boeing 707-437 "Gouri Shankar" coming in from Kuala Lumpur via Madras (now Chennai) crashed at Mumbai airport after a heavy landing during a rainstorm. The fuselage exploded after initiating a late go-around. 90 occupants were on the aircraft. 2 of 12 crew members and 15 of 99 passengers were killed in the crash. [ [ Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 06221982 ] ] [ [ Fatal Events Since 1970 for Air India ] ]

*At 07:13 on Sunday, 23 June 1985, an explosion in the New Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport) baggage terminal killed two baggage handlers, and injured four. The Sikh terrorists intended the bomb in that bag for Air India Flight 301 with 177 passengers and crew on board, bound for Bangkok.

*Air India Flight 182 "Kanishka" a Boeing 747-237B was blown up in mid-air, mid-flight on 23 June 1985 by a suitcase-bomb as planted by Sikh terrorists allegedly as revenge for the Indian Government's attack on the sacred Golden Temple. The flight was on the first leg on its Montreal-London-Delhi-Bombay flight when it exploded off the coast of Ireland. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. All 307 passengers and 22 crew on board died. [cite web|url=|title=Indepth: Air India|publisher=CBC News|accessdate=2007-05-08] After this incident Air-India suspended all services to Canada, which were only resumed in 2005 - after a gap of 20 years. [cite news|url=|title=Package grounds Air-India flight|publisher=The Globe and Mail|date=2006-09-20|accessdate=2007-05-08]


The profitability of Air India as [ published] in the 2004 annual report by "Ministry of Civil Aviation" with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.

=Gallery of Tata Air Lines' airline timetable

Gallery of superseded liveries


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ United Nations Award]

Template group
list =

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