Air India: A name chosen through opinion poll more than 75 years ago


More than 75 years ago, an opinion poll among Tata employees to choose from four names resulted in the country’s first airline company being named as ‘Air India’.

Little over 10 days after formally taking control of Air India, Tata Group on Sunday shared nuggets of information about the history of the full service airline.

Tatas had lost control of Air India nearly seven decades ago before taking it back last month.

Back in 1946, when Tata Air Lines expanded from a division of Tata Sons into a company, a name was to be chosen.

“The choice for India’s first airline company came down to Indian Airlines, Pan-Indian Airlines, Trans-Indian Airlines & Air India. #AirIndiaOnBoard#WingsOfChange,” Tata Group said on Sunday.

In a series of tweets, Tata Group also shared two pictures, including an excerpt from the Tata Monthly Bulletin of 1946. Air India retweeted the tweets.

According to the bulletin, Tatas were faced with the problem of finding a name for the new Air Line Company which they were forming to take over and extend the activities of the Tata Airlines which had hitherto functioned as a department of Tata Sons Limited.

Also read: Former British Airways CEO denies being contender for Air India top job

The choice was between Indian Air Lines, Air-India Pan-Indian Air Lines and Trans-Indian Air Lines.

The bulletin said 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.

Voting papers were distributed to ascertain the views of representative sections of opinion among Tata employees and they were requested to indicate their first and second preferences.

“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.

The first tweet mentioned ‘WHO NAMED AIR INDIA?’ in a box with the background of an old Air India aircraft.

Also read: EPFO onboards Air India, takes into fold 7,453 airline employees for social security benefits

It was followed by a tweet saying “But who made the final decision? Read this excerpt from the Tata Monthly Bulletin of 1946 to know. #AirIndiaOnBoard #WingsOfChange #ThisIsTata” along with excerpt from the bulletin.

The tweets were put out from Tata Group’s official Twitter handle.

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 Rs 18,000 crore. As part of the deal, Talace paid Rs 2,700 crore in cash and took over Rs 15,300 crore debt of the airline. The remaining debt and borrowings of Air India were transferred to AIAHL.

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