When Air India Was Owned By Tata’s

Al Arafat Sherfuddeen

February 4th, 2016

Image Courtesy:wikipedia | wikipedia | shradhanjali

A Sneak Peek Into History
Air India, the national carrier of our country was first owned by J R D Tata, who obtained the first pilot licence issued in India. Tata won a contract to carry mail for Imperial Airways in April 1932. Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long-range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe.The aviator Nevill Vintcent had an idea to run mail flights from Bombay and Colombo that connected with the Imperial Airways flights from the United Kingdom. He found a supporter for his plans from J. R. D. Tata of the Tata Iron and Steel Company. After three years of negotiations Vintcent and Tata won a contract to carry their mail in April 1932 and in July 1932 the Aviation Department of Tata Sons was formed. 


Tata’s First Flight And First Success
Tata flew a single-engine De Havilland Puss Moth carrying air mail from Karachi to Bombay and the aircraft continued to Madras. Initial service included weekly airmail service. This route was chosen because of the presence of provision of radio and night landing at Karachi. The route was a dangerous one as it crossed many hill ranges, swamps and parts of the country which received the highest rainfall, despite the challenges Tata Airlines clocked 160,000 miles in its first year without any lapses.

TataAirlinesLogoAirline bagagge label of Tata Sons/Tata Air Service/Tata Airlines as used in 1932.


When Moraji Desai Fired Tata
Post nationalization, the government of India held a 49 percent stake in Air India, the public and Tata Sons owned the remaining 51 percent. J R D Tata was the chairman of Air India until 1978 when then Prime Minister Mr Morarji Desai fired J.R.D Tata from the post of chairman of Air India. Until J.R.D Tata was the chairman, Air India was widely known for its supreme quality, its customer service, impeccable discipline and all the best practices of an airline. Air India was not just an airline it was a bench mark for other airlines. Firing of J.R.D Tata played its small part in the fall of the Morarji Desai government and ended Tata’s journey in Indian aviation despite many attempts to revive it until recently with its launch of Vistara. 

Soch Badlega – Desh Badlega – Revive Air India
The Logical Indian looking back at history feels very confident on the capability of Indians to set a benchmark. Aviation is crucial to any country, particularly in case of a developing consumer driven nation as ours. We appeal to the Indian government and the aviation industry to take inspiration from history, replicate it and make Air India as the flag bearer of quality in global aviation space.

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