04 December, 2020

A Princely Kingdom In Rarefied Air

Indian Express Archive
A Princely Kingdom In Rarefied Air

On the face of it, 1963 was an altogether ‘normal’ year at Air India. Old-timers say ‘nothing special’ happened that year, apart from the delivery of Air India’s seventh Boeing 707 aircraft. It was a mere 17 years after Tata Airlines became a public limited company, named Air India.

In those heady early days of India’s independence, the airline’s image was young, edgy, efficient, and aspirational—light years away from the sorry state of affairs the national carrier finds itself in today.

In the 1960s, leading trade magazines Flight and Aerospace International ranked Air India among the ‘Top 10’ airlines in the world. It was the first airline to have a mascot, the Maharaja, which was introduced in the early 1960s. It was admired globally—even by the Swiss—for its outstanding service and its cheese platters. Young ladies from ‘good families’ vied to be air hostesses—and some even married into better families thanks to the glamour and excitement associated with...



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