Air India is the oldest and the most popular airline of India. This airline is a part of the Indian government-owned Air India Limited (AIL). It is ranked at number 16 among the top airline companies in Asia. It continues to be India's national Airline with a global network of passenger and cargo services.
Air India was formerly started as Tata Airlines in 1932 but had to close down its operations during the Second World War. After the end of the war, the company restored its services in 1946 and became a public limited company named as Air India.
On June 8, 1948, the company started its international services, with a weekly flight from Mumbai to London via Cairo and Geneva. Under the Air Corporations Act of 1953, the Government nationalized the air transportation industry and Air India International Limited was born.
The main hubs of the airline are situated at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and at the Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. The airlines earlier had its international hub at the Frankfurt International Airport but it was closed down in 2010 due to number of setbacks and losses that are made by the company. The company's chairman had announced that they would make Indira Gandhi International Airport as their international as well domestic hub.
In 1960, it entered into the Jet Age and acquired the first Boeing 707 420 which was named Gauri Shankar and registered as VT-DJJ. The First jet services were started to New York City via London. After 2 years it became the first jet airlines of the world. The Airline entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for largest evacuation done by a civil airliner, evacuating over 111,000 people from Amman to Mumbai – a distance of 4,117 km, by operating 488 flights in union with Indian Airlines, during August to October in 1990 and this operation lasted for 59 days. The operation was carried out during Persian Gulf War in 1990.
The combined losses for Air India in financial year of 2009-10 were Rs. 770 crores. The airlines at present operates to approximately 44 destinations all over the world. It also has code-sharing agreements with many international airlines to enlarge coverage.
It provides First class, Executive class and Economy class cabin services. Some of the other services include luxury lounges for its First and Executive class passengers in specific destinations in its ground terminals. The company has duty free sales of its flights, known as "Sky Bazaar". The airlines is now a proud partner of Star Alliance and is supposed to be connected by Alliance Air and Air India Express. In the year of 2006-2007, the airlines began showing signs of financial crises.
The Maharaja Lounge is offered to First and Business class passengers. Presently the headquarters is located at the Nariman Point in South Mumbai the airline moved there in 1970. The building also served as the headquarters for Indian Airlines.