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Indian (airline)

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Indian (airline)

Indian (airline)
Founded 1953
Secondary hubs
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program Flying Returns
Airport lounge Maharaja Lounge
Fleet size 72 excl.subsidiaries
Destinations 63 excl.subsidiaries
Company slogan Have you tried the new Air India?
Parent company Air India Limited
Headquarters New Delhi
Key people Rohit Nandan, CMD

Indian, formerly Indian Airlines (Indian Airlines Limited from 1993 and Indian Airlines Corporation from 1953 to 1993) was a major Indian airline based in Delhi and focused primarily on domestic routes, along with several international services to neighbouring countries in Asia. It was state-owned, and was administered by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It was one of the two flag carriers of India, the other being Air India. The airline officially merged into Air India on 27 February 2011.

On 7 December 2005, the airline was rebranded as Indian for advertising purposes as a part of a program to revamp its image in preparation for an initial public offering (IPO).[1] The airline operated closely with Air India, India's national carrier. Alliance Air, a fully owned subsidiary of Indian, was renamed Air India Regional.[2]

In 2007, the Government of India announced that Indian would be merged into Air India. As part of the merger process, a new company called the National Aviation Company of India Limited (now called Air India Limited) was established, into which both Air India (along with Air India Express) and Indian (along with Alliance Air) would be merged. Once the merger was completed, the airline - called Air India - would continue to be headquartered in Mumbai and would have a fleet of over 130 aircraft.

HS 748 built in India, operated by Indian Airlines, at Bombay Airport in 1974


The airline was set up under the Air Corporations Act, 1953 with an initial capital of 32 million and started operations on 1 August 1953. It was established after legislation came into force to nationalise the entire airline industry in India. Two new national airlines were to be formed along the same lines as happened in the United Kingdom with British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways (BEA). Air India took over international routes and Indian Airlines Corporation (IAC) took over the domestic and regional routes. Eight pre-Independence domestic airlines, Deccan Airways, Airways India, Bharat Airways, Himalayan Aviation, Kalinga Airlines, Indian National Airways and Air Services of India and the Domestic wing of Air India, were merged to form the new domestic national carrier Indian Airlines Corporation. International operations of Air India Ltd. was taken over by the newly formed Air India International. Indian Airlines Corporation inherited a fleet of 99 aircraft including 74 Douglas DC-3 Dakotas, 12 Vickers Vikings, 3 Douglas DC-4s and various smaller types from the seven airlines that made it up.

Vickers Viscounts were introduced in 1957 with Fokker F27 Friendships being delivered from 1961. The 1960s also saw Hawker Siddeley HS 748s, manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, join the fleet. The jet age began for IAC with the introduction of the pure-jet Sud Aviation Caravelle airliner in 1964, followed by Boeing 737-200s in the early 1970s. April 1976 saw the first three Airbus A300 wide-body jets being introduced. The regional airline, Vayudoot, which had been established in 1981, was later reintegrated. By 1990, Airbus A320-200s were introduced. The economic liberalisation process initiated by the Government of India in the early 1990s ended Indian Airlines' dominance of India's domestic air transport industry. Indian Airlines faced tough competition from Jet Airways, Air Sahara (now Jet Lite), East-West Airlines, Skyline NEPC, and ModiLuft. As of 2005, Indian Airlines was the second largest airline in India after Jet Airways while Air Sahara controlled 17% of the Indian aviation industry.

Old red logo of Indian Airlines until the mid-2000s

East-West Airlines, Skyline NEPC and ModiLuft discontinued flight operations but the entry of several low-cost airlines in India, such as SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir and others like Kingfisher Airlines along with its low cost arm Kingfisher Red continued to give competition in its market, forcing Indian to cut down air-fares. However, as of 2006, Indian Airlines was still a profit making airline; in fact during 2004-2005 it made a record profit of Rs656.1 million.[3] Indian Airlines Limited was partly owned by the Government of India (51% of share capital ) through a holding company and has 19,300 employees as of March 2007.[4] Its annual turn-over, together with that of its subsidiary Alliance Air, was well over 40 billions (around US$1 billion). Together with its subsidiary, Alliance Air, Indian Airlines carried a total of over 7.5 million passengers annually.

In December 2007, Air India was invited to join the Star Alliance. On 26 February 2011, Indian ceased operating under its own brand and codes with the merger with Air India being complete.[5]


Executive class cabin of an Indian Airlines Airbus A320

Codeshare agreements

Indian had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[6]


Airbus A319-100
Airbus A320-200
Airbus A321-200

Indian operated an all Airbus fleet consisting of the A320 family.


The aircraft livery used while the company was called Indian Airlines was one of the longest in continuous use in the airline industry. The logo (IA) and the livery, designed by National Institute of Design Ahmedabad {cn}, which was one of the best in India for its high level of recall value, will be remembered for a long time. Its aircraft were mainly white, with the belly painted in light metallic grey. Above the windows, "Indian Airlines" was written in English on starboard side and in Hindi on port side. The tail was bright orange, with its logo in white. In most of the aircraft, the logo was also painted on the engines over its bare metal colour. Also, when the company was under the title of Indian Airlines, to celebrate its 50th year of service the airline put the slogan "50 years of flying" in gold on many of their aircraft.

After the name change to Indian, the company's aircraft sported a new look inspired by the Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha. The tail of their aircraft had a partial blue wheel since practically 3/4 of the remainder is cut off. The wheel is over an orange background with the carrier's name "Indian" written in English on one side of the fuselage, and in Hindi on the other. On 15 May 2007, the Government of India released the new merger livery, which was sent to Boeing in Seattle to repaint all the new fleet coming into the new Air India. Most of the old fleets of Air India and Indian Airlines have also been painted in the new livery.

In-flight Snacks in Indian Airlines


Indian operated short-haul Airbus A320-family airplanes. It offered 2 classes on most sectors - Economy Class and Executive class. Economy class has a typical 3 X 3 seating on the Airbus aircraft. Passengers are offered complimentary meals. For entertainment, their in-flight magazine Magic Carpet is available to all passengers. Some airplanes also have personal seat-back touch-screens and free earphones are provided to all passengers. This IFE is available on the busier sectors like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai or Delhi-Singapore; on their new A319 and A321 aircraft. It has pre-recorded Audio / Video channels and a moving map. The Executive class had a similar IFE. The seat configuration is 2X2 with a generous recline. Meals served are more lavish. At some airports, Executive Class passengers get exclusive check-in benefits and porters to assist them.

Incidents and accidents

  • On 11 September 1963, Vickers Viscount VT-DIO crashed 51 kilometres (32 mi) south of Agra, killing all 18 people on board.[8]
  • On 18 February 1969, Douglas DC-3 VT-CJH crashed on take-off from Jaipur – Sanganer Airport on a scheduled passenger flight. The aircraft was overloaded and take-off was either downwind or with a crosswind. All 30 people on board survived.[9]
  • On 29 August 1970: a Fokker F27 flew into high terrain near Silchar shortly after takeoff, killing the five crew members and 34 passengers.
  • On 30 January 1971: a Fokker F27 on a scheduled flight from Srinagar to Jammu was hijacked to Lahore by Ashraf and Hashim Qureshi, two Kashmiri terrorists. Passengers were returned to India on 2 February, but the hijackers destroyed the aircraft. India and Pakistan, blaming each other's intelligence services, each ban the other country's overflights and India-Pakistan flights until 1976.
  • On 9 August 1971, Vickers Viscount VT-DIX was damaged beyond economic repair when it overran the runway at Jaipur Airport. The aircraft was landed with a tailwind on a wet runway.[10]
  • On 9 December 1971: a Hawker Siddeley HS 748, near Chinnamanur was descending into Madurai when it flew into high terrain about 50 mi (80 km) from the airport, killing the four crew members and all 17 passengers. The accident occurred in reduced visibility during daylight hours.[11][12][13]
  • On 11 August 1972: a Fokker F27, at New Delhi lost altitude and crashed after aborting a landing. The four crew members and the 14 passengers were killed.
  • On 31 May 1973: Flight 440, (registered VT-EAM), crashed and burned during landing at New Delhi, killing five of the seven crew and 43 of the 58 passengers.
  • On 12 October 1976: Flight 171, a Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle, had its right engine catch fire shortly after takeoff from Bombay. The crew attempted to return, but fuel flow to the engine was not stopped. When the fire spread through the fuselage and the hydraulic system failed, the aircraft controls failed before landing. All six crew members and their 89 passengers were killed.
  • On 4 August 1979: a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 aircraft was approaching Bombay airport at night and in poor weather when it flew into high terrain approximately 6 mi (9.7 km) from the airport, killing the four crew and their 41 passengers.
  • On 10 May 1980: a Boeing 737-2A8, en route near Rampurhat experienced severe turbulence that killed two of the 132 passengers.
  • On 19 August 1981, Flight 557, a HAL 748 VT-DXF overshot the 5,783 feet (1,763 m) runway at Mangalore International Airport in wet weather. The aircraft came to a halt just beyond the runway edge. While there were no fatalities, the aircraft was damaged beyond repair and was written off. One of the passengers on board was Veerappa Moily, the then Finance Minister of Karnataka.[14]
  • On 19 October 1988: Flight 113, a Boeing 737 (registered VT-EAH) hit an electric mast 5 mi (8.0 km) out on approach to Ahmedabad in poor visibility, killing the six crew members and all but one of the 129 passengers.
  • On 16 August 1991, Flight 257, Boeing 737 (registered VT-EFL)Indian Airlines Flight 257 crashed on its descent into Imphal, killing all 69 occupants on 16 August 1991. The flight operating on the Calcutta-Imphal sector crashed into Thangjing hills, about 20 nautical miles (40 km) south-west of the Imphal airport. The aircraft had taken off from Calcutta and it began a descent into Imphal airport at around with the visibility at that time being seven kilometers. However, the aircraft lost contact with Imphal airport on the Instrument Landing System. The search and rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather conditions and a slushy terrain. The probable cause of accident was attributed to an "error on the part of the Pilot-in-Command in not adhering to the operational flight.
  • On 26 April 1993: Flight 491, Boeing 737 (registered VT-ECQ) The heavily laden aircraft started its takeoff from Aurangabad's runway 09 in hot and humid temperatures. After lifting off almost at the end of the runway, it impacted heavily with a lorry on a highway at the end of runway. The left main landing gear, left engine bottom cowling and thrust reverser impacted the left side of the truck at a height of nearly seven feet from the level of the road. Thereafter the aircraft hit the high tension electric wires nearly 3 km North-East of the runway and hit the ground. 63 Injuries 55 Fatalities.
  • On 15 November 1993: Indian Airlines Flight 440, an Airbus A300 (registered VT-EDV)executed a missed approach at Hyderabad's Begumpet Airport due to poor visibility, but the flaps failed to retract. After trying to solve the problem while flying in the vicinity of Hyderabad, the crew eventually diverted the aircraft to Chennai. The delay in diverting, and the need to fly slower due to the extended flaps, resulted in the aircraft running out of fuel on the way. The aircraft force-landed in a paddy field and was damaged beyond repair. All 262 people on board survived. Chiranjeevi and Venkatesh, Telugu Filmstars survived this crash attracting widespread attention.[16]


Given below is a chart of trend of profitability of Indian Airlines as published in the 2004 annual report by Ministry of Civil Aviation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.[17]

Year Operating Revenues Operating Profit(Loss)
2002 41,015 (1,347)
2003 46,498 1,251

See also


  1. ^ "Indian Airlines to be called 'Indian' now". 7 December 2005. 
  2. ^ "Why one large airline makes economic sense". The Hindu Businessline. 30 June 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  3. ^ Indian Airlines profit up 48 p.c., The Hindu, 28 Dec 2005
  4. ^ "Directory: World Airlines".  
  5. ^ AI/IC complete merger
  6. ^ Alliance Partner : Code Share Partners
  7. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  8. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  9. ^ "VT-CJH Accident Description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  11. ^ Music. Manorama Online (2014-04-04). Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  12. ^ The Liberation Times : Commemorating 30 Years since India's Greatest Victory. Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  13. ^ HWH 22 aircrash. Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  14. ^ "Moily's close shave in Mangalore 30 years ago". The Hindu. 22 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  15. ^ Flight 605 at the Aviation Safety Network
  16. ^ Chiranjeevi 'Weeping With Fear'. (2011-05-08). Retrieved on 2014-05-21.
  17. ^ "2004 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-30. 

External links

  • Indian Airlines (Archive)
  • Indian Airlines (Archive) - earlier material
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