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How Air India got its name? Answers Tata group by sharing a 1946 monthly letter

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Reclaiming India’s first airline, Air India, back from the central government in January 2021, nearly after seven decades, the Tata group is now giving it all new look and sharing the legacy of this royal airlines.

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Very few of us might know that how ‘Air India’ got its name. But this remains no secret anymore as the business conglomerate shared this information on social media, 10 days after the state-owned airline was handed over to the group. Unveiling the 75-year-old secret, the Tata Group revealed that Air India was named via an opinion poll among Tata Sons employees back in 1946.

While sharing this, today, the business group said it had initially chosen four names for the airline — Indian Airlines, Pan-Indian Airlines, Trans-Indian Airlines & Air-India.

Notably, the Tata group had lost control of India’s first airline Air India nearly seven decades ago, before taking it back from the central government in January 2021. “Back in 1946, when Tata Air Lines expanded from a division of Tata Sons into a company, we also had to name it. The choice for India’s first airline company came down to Indian Airlines, Pan-Indian Airlines, Trans-Indian Airlines and Air-India#AirIndiaOnBoard #WingsOfChange,” Tata Group tweeted.

(2/2): But who made the final decision? Read this excerpt from the Tata Monthly Bulletin of 1946 to know. #AirIndiaOnBoard #WingsOfChange #ThisIsTata pic.twitter.com/E7jkJ1yxQx

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— Tata Group (@TataCompanies) February 6, 2022

The tweet further said the final decision on choosing the name was taken by the group employees. “But who made the final decision? Read this excerpt from the Tata Monthly Bulletin of 1946 to know. #AirIndiaOnBoard #WingsOfChange #ThisIsTata.”

The Tata group also shared its monthly bulletin letter issued back in 1946, which stated that “to the innately democratic mind of the head of the Tata organisation, it seemed a good idea to let the selection be made by popular opinion in Bombay House through a sort of Gallup Poll or Sample Opinion Survey”.

The bulletin further stated that accordingly, voting papers were distributed so as to ascertain the views of representative sections of opinion among Tata employees. The voters were requested to indicate their first and second preferences.

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“The first count revealed 64 votes for Air-India, 51 for Indian Air Lines, 28 for Trans-Indian Air Lines and 19 for Pan-Indian Air Lines. When the less favoured names had been eliminated, the final count showed 72 votes for Air-India and 58 for Indian Air Lines. Thus, the name of the new company comes to be ‘AIR-INDIA’,” the bulletin said.

On January 27, Tatas took over control of Air India, its subsidiary Air India Express as well as a 50 per cent stake in joint venture AISATS.

Through a competitive bidding process, the government sold loss-making Air India to Talace for 18,000 crore. As part of the deal, Talace paid 2,700 crore in cash and took over 15,300 crore debt of the airline. The remaining debt and borrowings of Air India were transferred to AIAHL.

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