Indian Airlines

Indian Airlines or Indian (Hindi: इंडियन एयरलाइंस or इंडियन) was an airline based in Delhi, India and focused primarily on domestic routes, along with several international services to neighbouring countries in Asia. Indian Airlines is state-owned, and is administered by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Its main bases are Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi, Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai, Chennai’s Meenambakkam Airport and Subhash Chandra Bose Airport in Kolkata .

Though the company that ownes and operates the airline continues to be named Indian Airlines Limited, on 7 December 2005, the airline was rebranded as Indian or इंडियन for advertising purposes as a part of a program to revamp its image in preparation for an initial public offering (IPO). The airline operates closely with Air India, India's national carrier. Alliance Air, a fully-owned subsidiary of Indian Airlines, was renamed Air India Regional.

In February 2007, the Government of India approved plans to merge Indian Airlines with Air India. The merger process is currently underway.


The airline was set up under the Air Corporations Act, 1953 with an initial capital of Rs. 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.

Seven former independent domestic airlines, Deccan Airways, Airways India, Bharat Airways, Himalayan Aviation, Kalinga Airlines, Indian National Airways and Air Services of India, were merged to form the new domestic national carrier. 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 A320s 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 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.

East-West Airlines and ModiLuft discontinued flight operations but the entry of several low-cost airlines in India, souch as Air Deccan, SpiceJet and others like Kingfisher Airlines continue 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.

Indian Airlines Limited is wholly owned by the Government of India through a holding company and has 19,300 employees as of March 2007. Its annual turn-over, together with that of its subsidiary Alliance Air, is well over Rs.4000 crores (around US$ 1 billion). Together with its subsidiary, Alliance Air, Indian Airlines carries a total of over 7.5 million passengers annually.

On 22 February 2007, the Group of Ministers (GoM) approved the merger of state-owned carriers, Air India and Indian Airlines. Operating under the name Air India, the two airlines formally became one entity on 15 July 2007 upon receiving the new Boeing 777-200LR with the new livery of the merged airline. The new airline's headquarters will remain in Mumbai, and will have a fleet of over 130 aircraft.

In December 2007, Air India was invited to join the Star Alliance. Since Indian Airlines is in the midst of merging with Air India, it too will effectively be a member.


Indian served its customers through inbound call centres based at Delhi and outbound call centers at major metropolitan areas. Accessible through a toll free number from all parts of the country, arrival-departure information, reservations, promotional schemes, telephone check-in and booking (Dial-a-Ticket) are a few of the services rendered to fliers and travel agents.


Code Share


As of October,2008 Indian Airlines Fleet Consists of the following Aircraft Families:
Indian Airlines Fleet
Type Total Orders Options Registration Engine Passengers
Routes Notes
Airbus A319-112 11 9 0 VT-SCA,VT-SCB,
CFM 56 122-144 Domestic Operated by Air India under IC Code
Airbus A320-231 48 3 0 VT-EPB,VT-EPC,
IAE V2500 146 Domestic 23 Owned,25 Leased.Operated by Air India under IC Code
Airbus A321-211 9 11 0 VT-PPA,VT-PPB,
CFM 56 172 Domestic,Asia Operated by Air India under IC Code


The aircraft livery used while the company was called Indian Airlines was one of the longest in terms of time. Its aircraft were mainly white. The belly was in light metallic grey. Above the windows, "Indian Airlines" was written in English on one side and Hindi on other. 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 was sporting a new look inspired by the Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa. 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 livery, which was sent to Boeing in Seattle to repaint all the new fleet coming into the new Air India. The design is a cross between the Air India and Indian Airlines livery. The old fleets of Air India and Indian Airlines will also slowly be painted in the new livery.

Incidents and accidents

There have been at least 12 fatal events in the history of Indian Airlines and Indian.

  • 29 August 1970: Indian Airlines Fokker F27, near Silchar, India: The aircraft crashed into high ground shortly after takeoff. All five crew members and 34 passengers were killed.
  • 30 January 1971: Indian Airlines Fokker F27 scheduled Srinagar-Jammu flight is hijacked by self-proclaimed Kashmiri Separatists Ashraf and Hashim Qureshi to Lahore. Passengers are returned to India on 2 February, but the Qureshis blow-up the aircraft. India and Pakistan each accuse the other's intelligence services of doing a "put-up job" (Pakistan specifically makes the non-credible claim that India did so to increase tension between Pakistan's two wings--as Pakistan had just concluded an election, which the Awami League had won decisively) and ban overflights by each other's airlines as well as India-Pakistan flights until 1976.
  • 9 December 1971: Indian Airlines HS748, near Chinnamanur, India: The aircraft was on descent into Madurai when it crashed into high ground about from the airport. The event occurred in daylight and reduced visibility. All four crew members and 17 passengers were killed.
  • 11 August 1972: Indian Airlines F27, New Delhi, India: The aircraft lost altitude and crashed after abandoning a landing attempt. All four crew members and 14 passengers were killed.
  • 31 May 1973: Indian Airlines Boeing 737-200, near New Delhi, India: The aircraft crashed and caught fire during landing. The crash killed five of the seven crew members and 43 of the 58 passengers.
  • 12 October 1976: Indian Airlines Sud Aviation Caravelle, Mumbai, India: The right engine caught fire shortly after takeoff and the crew elected to return. Fuel flow to the engine was not stopped and the fire spread through the fuselage and led to hydraulic system failure and a loss of aircraft control shortly before landing. All six crew members and 89 passengers were killed.
  • 4 August 1979: Indian Airlines HS748, near Mumbai, India: The aircraft was approaching the airport at night and in poor weather when it collided with high ground about from the airport. All four crew members and 41 passengers were killed.
  • 10 May 1980: Indian Airlines 737-200, near Rampurhat, India: The aircraft experienced severe en route turbulence. Two of the 132 passengers were killed.
  • 19 October 1988: Indian Airlines Flight 113, Ahmedabad, India: The aircraft hit an electric mast out on approach in poor visibility. All six crew members and 128 of 129 passengers were killed.
  • 14 February 1990: Indian Airlines Flight 605 (an Airbus A320), Bangalore, India: Controlled flight into terrain during approach. The aircraft hit about short of the runway. Four of the seven crew members and 88 of the 139 passengers were killed.
  • 16 August 1991: Indian Airlines Flight 257, near Imphal, India: The aircraft hit high ground during descent about from the airport. All six crew members and 63 passengers were killed.
  • 26 April 1993: Indian Airlines Flight 491, (Boeing 737-200), Aurangabad, India: The flight crew initiated their liftoff late and the aircraft struck a large vehicle on a road just outside the airport. The vehicle strike damaged one engine and the aircraft later hit power lines and crashed. Four of the six crew members and 52 of the 112 passengers were killed. The administrators of the airport were also cited for failing to regulate vehicular traffic on the road.
  • 24 December 1999: Indian Airlines Flight 814, which had just taken off from Kathmandu, Nepal to Delhi, was hijacked. The plane flew around different points in the Subcontinent and finally landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as officials of the government of India and the Taliban negotiated. One passenger was killed and some were released. On 31 December 1999, the rest of the hostages on Flight 814 were freed.
  • A non-fatal aircraft loss occurred on 15 November 1993. Indian Airlines Flight 440, an Airbus A300B2-101, 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.


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


Indian Airlines when trying to terminate its overweight employees in an effort to compete with private airlines was sued by the terminated employees. However, Delhi high court dismissed their plea in support of the airlines. The ruling is based on the provision in the contract signed by the air hostesses with the airlines about a possible termination of their contract in case of weight gain.


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