By Kaveri Waghela
Air India was founded by JRD TATA in 1932 as Tata Airlines, a division of Tata Sons Ltd. (now Tata group). But on the 1st of August 1953, the Government of India exercised its option to purchase a majority stake in the carrier and Air India International Limited was born as one of the fruits of the Air Corporations Act that nationalised the air transportation industry.
Air India was the first international airline that was launched in india. Its history goes back to several decades. If you are an Indian, you would have travelled by Air India atleast once in your lifetime. Traveling by Air India was a pleasure then, for the people who had never really seen an aircraft in their lives. The view of an aeroplane from far above the sky during that time was priceless. Air India was not a mere airline but it was a ray of hope and an answer to many prayers when people could go to their desired destinations safely and comfortably. What more, it was the first airline to make travelling easier to foreign destinations. It epitomized honesty and was known for its passenger-staff relations. The Air India maharajah ,a sweet little plumpy figure with his outstretched moustaches and a red and white stripped turban and one held on his chest humbly invited people to travel by Air India.
But along time the maharajah’s duties have been wavered. Blame it on its internal crisis or because of natural conditions. Air India which was once known as a premium airline and hospitality is now being known for being in the news 24/7.Be it the pilots strikes,stale food served to the passengers, pilots sexually abusing the Air hostesses, their financial meltdown, the ever pending wages of its staff, competition from its rival airlines, flight delays and the biggest and the most infamous accident of a Air India flight while taking off in Bangalore!
As a child the only airline I could probably see in the climax of the movie (when a Hero hunts for his long lost lover) was Air India. The times when the Air- Hostess gave me a bagful of chocolates in the end of my journey was Air India, the times when the staff members were helpful in finding my lost baggage was Air India. I want Air India to be remembered like that- for its Hospitality and Status and not for its economic slump. As an Air India loyalist, it deeply hurts me to see my favourite airline going through this crisis. I hope it changes for the better as what I had known it to be.