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Air India Limited ( ) is the national airline of Indiamarker, flying a worldwide network of passenger and cargo services. With 159 airplanes in its fleet, the National Aviation Company of India Limited administers the state-owned Air India and Indian Airlines merger..

Air India is the 16th largest airline in Asia, serving 25 destinations worldwide, and, with its affiliated carriers, serves over 100 cities. Air India has codeshare agreements with 13 other international airlines. In 2010, Air India is expected to join Star Alliance, the world's largest airline alliance.


Tata Air Services
1940s-2007 Air India logo
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 flew a single-engined De Havilland Puss Moth carrying air mail (postal mail of Imperial Airways) from Karachimarker's Drigh Road Aerodrome to Bombaymarker's Juhu Airstripmarker via Ahmedabadmarker. The aircraft continued to Madrasmarker via Bellarymarker 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 (registered VT-CQP) took off from Bombaymarker bound for Londonmarker via Cairomarker and Genevamarker. This marked the airline's first long-haul international flight, soon followed by service in 1950 to Nairobimarker via Adenmarker.

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 Bangkokmarker, Hong Kongmarker, Tokyomarker and Singaporemarker.

Air India International entered the jet age in 1960 when its first Boeing 707-420, named Gauri Shankar (registered VT-DJJ), was delivered. Jet services to New York Citymarker via Londonmarker were inaugurated that same year on 14th 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.

On 8 March 2004, International Women's Day, the airline operated an "All Women Flight" from Mumbai to Singapore. Captain Rashmi Miranda, who became Air-India's first female Commander in November 2003 and Captain Kshmata Bajpai piloted the flight, an Airbus A310-300 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 1970, Air India moved its offices to downtown Bombaymarker. The next year, the airline took delivery of its first Boeing 747-200B named Emperor Ashoka (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 A310-300; the airline is the largest operator of this type in passenger service. In 1988, Air India also took delivery of two Boeing 747-300M 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.

In 1993, Air India took delivery of the flagship of its fleet when the first Boeing 747-400 named Konark (registered VT-ESM) made history by operating the first non-stop flight between New York Citymarker and Delhimarker. In 1994 the airline was registered as Air India Ltd. In 1996, the airline inaugurated service to its second US gateway at O'Hare International Airportmarker in Chicagomarker. In 1999, the airline opened its dedicated Terminal 2-C at the newly renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airportmarker in Mumbaimarker.

In 2000, Air India introduced services to Shanghai and to its third US gateway at Newark Liberty International Airportmarker in Newarkmarker. On May 2004, Air India launched a wholly-owned low cost airline called Air-India Express. Air India Express connecting cities in India with the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent. In 2004 Air India also launched flights to its fourth US gateway at Los Angeles International Airportmarker in Los Angelesmarker (which has since been terminated) and expanded its international routes to include flights from Ahmedabadmarker, Amritsarmarker, Bangaloremarker and Hyderabadmarker.

On 1 March 2009 Air India made Frankfurt Airportmarker its European Hub for its Trans-Atlantic North American Operations.

Air India is planning to add Washington, D.C.marker to its North American destinations from December 1, 2009; the flight starts at Washington's Dulles International Airportmarker and stops at John F. Kennedy International Airportmarker in New York Citymarker and then flies non-stop to New Delhimarker Indira Gandhi International Airportmarker.

Re-Privatisation Plans

In 2001, Air India was put up for sale by the then NDA government. One of the bids was by a consortium of Tata Group-Singapore Airlines. However the re-privatisation plans were shelved after Singapore Airlines pulled out and the global economy slumped.

In 2007, the Government of India 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 (NACIL) was established, into which both Air India (along with Air India Express) and Indian Airlines (along with Alliance Air) will be merged. Once the merger is complete, the airline - which will continue to be called Air India - will continue to be headquartered in Mumbai.

Star Alliance announced on 13 December 2007 that it had invited Air India to join as a member. Air India is set to become a full Star Alliance member in 2010.

India has the world's fastest growing airline industry. However, increasing fuel prices resulted in a 4% decline in air traffic in June 2008. Increasing competition of other major Indian carriers like Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines has pushed Air India to third place in India in terms of market share. In July 2008, it was reported that Air India was seeking US$534 million in aid from the Indian government to cover its losses. In the wake of rising fuel prices, the airline decided to hike its air fare in June 2008.

Financial Crisis

Around 2006-07, the airlines began showing signs of financial distress. The combined losses for Air India and Indian Airlines in 2006-07 were Rs 7.7 billion. After the merger of the airlines, this went up to Rs 72 billion by March 2009. This was followed by restructuring plans which are still in progress.. In July 2009, SBI Capital Markets Ltdmarker was appointed to prepare a road map for the recovery of the airline. The carrier cancelled the purchase of six Boeing 777-300ER in July 2009 and sold three Airbus A300 and one Boeing 747-300M in March 2009 for $ 18.75 million to survive the financial crunch.


Air India serves 9 domestic destinations and 16 international destinations in 11 countries. Together with its subsidiaries the group connects 93 destinations worldwide in 24 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

Passenger operations

The airline carried 4.44 million passengers during 2005-2006 and achieved a load factor of 66.2 per cent lower than the 69.8 per cent load factor recorded in the preceding year. Air India offers three classes of service First 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".

Maharaja Lounge

Maharaja Lounge means "Emperor's Lounge", and is offered to First and Business class passengers. Air India shares lounges with other international airlines at international airports that do not have a Maharaja Lounge available. There are five Maharaja Lounges, one at each of the five major destinations of Air India, which are as following:



Each subsidiary maintains a separate fleet of aircraft. Air India operates an all wide-body fleet composed of Airbus A310, Airbus A330, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 aircraft.The average age of Air India's fleet, excluding freighter and subsidiary aircraft, is 9.7 years as of June 2009.

Air India Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers
Airbus A310-300 4
201 (0/20/181)
256 (0/??/???)
2 are ex-Singapore Airlines.
Service exit: 2010.
Airbus A330-200 2 279 (0/24/255) ex-Novair aircraft.
Service exit: 2010.
Boeing 747-400 6 423 (12/26/385) Service exit: 2016.
Boeing 777-200 1 258 (12/49/197) Leased from United Airlines.

Boeing 777-200ER 3 292 (8/21/263) Leased from United Airlines.

Boeing 777-200LR 8 238 (8/35/195)
Boeing 777-300ER 9 342 (4/35/303)
Boeing 787-8 27 TBD Service entry: 2010
Total 35 27

Airbus A310-300
Airbus A310-300s fly mainly to medium haul destinations such as Dammammarker, Hong Kongmarker, Nairobimarker, Osaka and Shanghai.

Two Airbus A310-300 aircraft were previously owned by Singapore Airlines and as such feature the older two-class Singapore Airlines configuration. Business and Economy class seats are standard and no personal televisions (PTVs) are provided in either class. These aircraft will eventually be replaced by the Boeing 787-8.

Airbus A330-200
Airbus A330-200s fly to medium haul destinations such as Parismarker and Tokyomarker. Both A330-200s are ex-Novair aircraft and feature Novair's interiors. Widescreen displays are there in both Business and Economy classes but no personal televisions (PTVs). These aircraft will be replaced by the Boeing 787-8.

Boeing 747-400
Boeing 747-400s fly medium haul destinations such as Jeddahmarker, Riyadhmarker & Tokyomarker.

Boeing 747-400s are configured in a 3 class configuration with new interior. First class features a flat bed seat, with up to 180 degree recline. Business class also has premium seats, with added recline and cushioning. Economy class features 32-34 inch seat pitch.

All Boeing 747-400 aircraft have undergone complete refurbishment, adding enhancements such as widescreen PTVs with Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD) in all classes and improved seats in First and Business class. The cabin is upgraded with all new economy seats, cushions and upholstery. New overhead bins and aircraft side panels, a new coat of paint for the side trims, new cockpit trims and new toilets are part of the refurbished aircraft.

In-flight entertainment on the refurbished Boeing 747-400s features the Thales TopSeries i4000 Entertainment system. This system features 10.4" widescreen displays for First Class and Business Class seats and 8.4" widescreen PTVs in Economy Class seats.

The Boeing 747-400 began service in late 1993 and were primarily brought in to replace the aging fleet of Boeing 747-200Bs. They have been named after places of cultural interest in India.

All Boeing 747-400 aircraft are due to be retired by 2016, and will be replaced by Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Boeing 777
Boeing 777s fly to short-, medium haul destinations such as Dubaimarker, Frankfurtmarker, Londonmarker, Tokyomarker and long haul destinations such as Chicagomarker, New York Citymarker, Newarkmarker and Torontomarker.

Air India operates several variants of the Boeing 777 — the Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 777-300ER.

The Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 777-200ER in the fleet used to be part of United Airlines, and thus feature United Airlines interiors. All seats in all classes feature a PTV with AVOD, and Business Class and First Class seats are not lie-flat.

Air India's recently delivered fleet of Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft feature new interiors. The airline opted for the Thales TopSeries i5000 entertainment system for in-flight entertainment on board its new Boeing 777-200LRs and Boeing 777-300ERs..

First Class features flat beds with 23 inch widescreen PTVs with AVOD. The seats include an in-seat massage function, USB ports and laptop power port. Business class is the "shell" type and also converts into a completely flat seat. Business Class seats feature 15 inch widescreen PTVs with laptop power and USB ports. These 777 aircraft feature Air India's new Economy Class seats which have 33 to 35 inch seat pitch and 10.6 inch widescreen PTVs with AVOD.


Air India has codesharing agreements with the following airlines:

With Air India's own entry into the Star Alliance (SA) expected in 2010, all other codeshare agreements with non-Star Alliance partners may be terminated.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Preferred International Airline award for travel and hospitality from Awaz Consumer Awards 2006
  • Best International West Bound Airline out of India for three successive years by Galileo Express TravelWorld Award
  • Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. by Galileo Express TravelWorld Award
  • Best Short-Haul International Airline by Galileo Express TravelWorld Award 2008
  • The Mercury Award for the years 1994 and 2003, from the International Flight Catering Association, for finest in-flight catering services.
  • Amity Corporate Excellence Award instituted by the Amity International Business School, Noida, Uttar Pradesh to honour Corporates with distinct vision, innovation, competitiveness and sustenance.
  • Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Award
  • Dun and Bradstreet Award(D&B)- first in terms of revenue out of the top airline companies out of India
  • Best South Asian Airline award by readers of TTG Asia, TTG China, TTG Mice and TTG-BT Mice China, all renowned Mice and business travel publications.
  • Cargo Airline of the Year at the 26th Cargo Airline of the Year Awards
  • 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 a distance of 4,117 km, by operating 488 flights in association with Indian Airlines, from 13 August to 11 October, 1990 lasting 59 days. The operation was carried out during Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq.
  • The Montreal Protocol Public Awareness Award was awarded to Air India by the United Nations for environmental protection, especially in the ozone layer.
  • World's First All-Jet Airline- June 1962
  • World's Largest Operator of Airbus A310-300
  • 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.

Air India One

The callsign Air India One is used when an Air India aircraft is being used by the government of Indiamarker for the transportation of the Prime Minister or President of India. Normally a Boeing 747-400 aircraft is used for overseas visits.


Air India's current subsidiaries are Air India Cargo, a separate division that provides air cargo services with a dedicated fleet, and Air-India Express, a low-cost airline that operates flights mainly to the Middle East. With the merger of Indian Airlines and its subsidiary Air India Regional into Air India, these two airlines will be folded into Air India.

Affiliated Carriers


The profitability of Air India as published in the 2004-2005 annual report by Ministry of Civil Aviation with figures in billions of Indian rupees.
Year Revenues Rs Billion Profit/(Loss) Rs Billion
2003 63.22 0.96
2005 92.51 0.19

Accidents and incidents

Since it began operations, seven Air India flights have fatally crashed, including one due to a terrorist attack. Air India has a record of 6.82 fatal events per million flights on average.


  • On 19 July 1959 Rani of Aera a Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation (registered VT-DIN) carrying 46 people (39 passengers and 7 crew) approached Santacruz Airportmarker in conditions of poor visibility due to rain. The captain was using an altimeter with the barometric pressure set at 29.92". An overshoot was delayed and the aircraft crashed and suffered damages beyond repair. There were no fatalities.







  1. Air India Limited: Private Company Information - BusinessWeek
  4. [1]
  5. Kingfisher Airlines leads in February market share
  6. All-women crew on AI
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  11. Air India joins Star Alliance The Hindu
  12. Air India to join Star Alliance
  13. For India’s Airlines, Passengers Are Plentiful but Profits Are Scarce - New York Times
  14. Air traffic fell by 4% in June -
  15. India & Pakistan
  17. What sent Air India crashing?
  18. Air India restructuring plans being readied
  19. SBI Caps prepares roadmap for Air India restructuring
  20. Air India, Boeing in talks to cancel 6 aircraft deliveries
  21. AI sells 4 aircraft in Mar to tackle financial crunch
  22. Ten year statistics
  23. [5]
  24. Air India Extends State-of-the-Art B777 to all Long Haul Destinations
  25. Air India to get Boeing 787 Dreamliner in June 2010
  26. [6]
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  29. AirIndia - Code-Share Partners
  31. Air India to end ties with KLM, BA, Cathay
  32. The Hindu : Business / Briefly : Air India bags Awaz consumer awards 2006
  35. UN Environment Award for Air India India Airline News, Airport developments, Aviation, A380, B787, Kingfisher, Deccan, Jet Airways, Air India, Indian Airlines, Spicejet
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  37. Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 06221982
  38. Fatal Events Since 1970 for Air India
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