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Air India History: All You Need To Know

Air India returns back to its founder company, Tata group on Friday. Read the full story here.
Published -08 Oct 2021, 17:46 ISTUpdated -09 Oct 2021, 11:39 IST
air india privatization

On Friday, the government announced the Tata Group as the successful bidder for the national carrier Air India. After a gap of 68 years, Air India comes back to it's founder company who won the stakes with a bid of Rs. 180 billion (Rs. 18,000 crore). Read on to know the whole story.

The History

  • India's national carrier, Air India was founded by the Tata Group with the name 'Tata Airlines'. It's first scheduled service was inaugurated by JRD Tata in 1932. The carrier was then operating between Karachi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bellary and Chennai, while flying mail and passengers. The first plane that the company used was Havilland Puss Moth.
  • During 1933- 34, the Havilland Puss Moth was  developed into de Havilland Leopard Moth DH-85 and in the year 1935, Tata Airlines introduced de Havilland Fox Moth DH-83, a 4-seater biplane, to its fleet. 
  • In the year 1937, the airline had begun Bombay-Indore-Bhopal-Gwalior-Delhi service. At that time, Waco YQC-6 was introduced. The inaugural flight was again flew by JRD Tata on November 6, 1937. Going forward, the routes were exteded to Thiruvananthapuram, Delhi, Colombo, Lahore, and some intermediate points.
Ratan Tata
  • In the year 1946,  after World War II, the Tata Airlines were renamed into Air- India Limited.
  • In 1948, Air-India International Limited was formed which started international services between Bombay (now Mumbai) and Cairo, Geneva, and London.
  • In 1953, India nationalized all Indian airlines and split them into two corporations, one for domestic and the other for international flights. The entity serving domestic routes was named Indian Airlines Corporation, which merged Air-India Limited with six lesser lines. The international service provider was named Air-India International Corporation.
  • Everything remained same until 1962,  when the name Air-India International Corporation was abbreviated to Air-India.
  • Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government made the first ever attempt to conduct a strategic sale of the airline in 2001. 40% of Air-India’s equity was put on the block then.  
  • In 2005, Air India removed the hyphen(-) from it's name and became Air India. The aim was to gain competitive advantage in computerised reservation searches for booking tickets as digitalisation had started increasing.
  • In 2007, Air India merged with the domestic unit Indian Airlines. 
  • In 2018, the government attempted to sell Air India once again, after accumulating debt of over Rs 50,000 crore and other liabilities. This time, however, the government decided to hold on to 24% of the equity in the airline. But it didn't get a single bidder.
  • In January 2020, Air India was back on the market for a strategic sale. This time, the government announced that it would sell its entire stake in the company. It set a deadline of December 14 in October.  At least two bids were received - one from Tata Sons and the other from a consortium of a section of Air India employees and Interups Inc, a US-based financial investment firm.  Ajay Singh, the promoter of SpiceJet, was also in the running.
  • In April 2021, the Centre asked the qualified interested bidders, Tata Sons and SpiceJet, to submit the final bids. On 8th October, 2021, Tata Sons makes winning bid of Rs 18,000 crore for Air India and takes back it's own product. 

Ratan Tata’s Emotional Note On Air India’s Homecoming

After the successful win, Tata Group's chairman emeritus Ratan Tata welcomes back Air India with an emotional note.

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A post shared by Ratan Tata (@ratantata)

Don't miss: Inside Ratan Tata’s Rs 150 Crore Stunning Seaside Bungalow

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