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How Air India got its name 75 years ago

The bulletin narrates the story behind Air India getting its name. Turns out, the name was decided through voting, and the voters were Tata employees.

February 07, 2022 / 06:27 PM IST
Tata Group shared the story of how Air India got its name in 1946 on Twitter.

Tata Group shared the story of how Air India got its name in 1946 on Twitter.


Tata group shared a fascinating backstory on Twitter about how Air India, now again back on the conglomerate’s turf after 69 years, got its iconic name 75 years ago.

The business giant on Sunday shared a monthly company bulletin from 1946 that marked the christening of the airlines that we today know as Air India.

“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 & Air-India. But who made the final decision? Read this excerpt from the Tata Monthly Bulletin of 1946 to know,” Tata Group tweeted along with the bulletin sourced from the company’s archives.

The bulletin was signed by J J Bhabha, a renowned nuclear physicist associated with the Tata Group for over 60 years in various leadership positions. He was also one of the founding fathers of the Group’s central archives as well.

The bulletin narrates the story behind Air India getting its name. Turns out, the name was decided through voting, and the voters were Tata employees.

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JJ Bhabha writes about how it had come down to a difficult choice between four shortlisted names for the new airline company.

Then, because of the “innately democratic mind of the Head of the Tata organisation”, the company decided to put it to a vote, writes Bhabha.

Indian Airlines, Pan-Indian Airlines, Trans-Indian Airlines and Air-India made it to the final stages.

An opinion survey was conducted at the Bombay House – the head office of the Tata Group - and voting papers were distributed among employees to jot down their first and second choices among the four options.

“The first count revealed 64 votes for Air-India, 51 for Indian Airlines, 28 for Trans-Indian Airlines and 19 for Pan-Indian Airlines,” the bulletin read.

"Air-India" emerged victorious in the final count with 72 votes over "Indian Air Lines" (58).

“Thus the name of the new Company comes to be “AIR-INDIA” (sic),” JJ Bhabha concluded the bulletin.

The Group had set up Tata Airlines in 1932. In 1946, it was renamed Air-India. The government took control of the airline in 1953, but JRD Tata continued to be its Chairman until 1977.

The government handed over loss-making Air India back to the Tata Group last month, nearly four months after they made the winning bid of Rs 18,000 crore.
Stella Dey
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