As we delve into the differences between the two major Indian airlines, Air India and Indian Airlines, it is crucial to understand their historical background. Air India, the flag carrier of India, was established in 1932 as Tata Airlines. It became a public limited company and was renamed Air India in 1946. Since then, it has been serving as the major international carrier of the country.
On the other hand, Indian Airlines was founded in 1953 with the aim of providing domestic air services in India. It was an amalgamation of eight pre-existing airlines. Over the years, it expanded its operations and also started providing international services to neighboring countries.
Differentiating between Air India and Indian Airlines based on their operations is a significant aspect. While Air India primarily focuses on long-haul international routes, Indian Airlines was more inclined towards domestic routes and short-haul international routes. Air India is known for connecting India to major cities across the globe.
Indian Airlines, meanwhile, had a strong domestic network and catered to the needs of regional travelers. It served not only the major cities but also the less frequented routes in India. Also, its short-haul international services were limited to nearby countries in the Asian sub-continent.
The type of aircraft used by an airline says a lot about its operations. Air India, being an international long-haul carrier, mainly operates wide-bodied aircraft like the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330. These aircraft are designed for long-haul travel and can accommodate a large number of passengers, offering more amenities and comfort.
Indian Airlines, in contrast, mostly operated narrow-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A320. These aircraft are suitable for short to medium-haul flights and have a smaller passenger capacity compared to wide-bodied aircraft. This reflects the airline's focus on domestic and regional operations.
Both Air India and Indian Airlines were known for their warm hospitality and excellent service. However, as an international carrier, Air India provides a host of premium services. These include first-class suites, a wide range of in-flight entertainment options, gourmet meals and an exclusive frequent flyer program, the Maharajah Club.
Indian Airlines, while offering a comfortable travel experience, had a more basic offering. The airline had a simpler frequent flyer program, the Flying Returns program, and fewer in-flight entertainment options, reflecting its focus on affordability and functionality for domestic travelers.
In 2007, a significant event occurred that further blurred the lines between Air India and Indian Airlines: a merger. The Indian government decided to merge the two airlines into a single entity, referred to as Air India. The merger was aimed at improving efficiency, reducing operational costs and making the entity more competitive in the global market.
Post-merger, the combined entity continued to use the Air India brand for its operations. However, the aircraft continued to operate under their respective brand names until they were repainted in the new Air India livery.
Today, the distinction between Air India and Indian Airlines exists mostly in history. The merger led to the integration of their operations, with Air India continuing to provide both domestic and international services. Despite the changes, the airline continues to strive to provide the same level of service and commitment that both Air India and Indian Airlines were known for.
The name 'Indian Airlines' is now a part of Indian aviation history, remembered for its significant contributions to domestic air travel in the country. On the other hand, Air India continues to be the flag bearer of Indian aviation in the international arena, connecting India with the world.