Will privatised Air India be rebranded?

Will privatised Air India be rebranded?
Will the ‘Maharajah’ retain his title? The group of ministers to be set up to look into Air India’s future will also decide whether the airline needs a new name once it is privatised.

“We may have a view on brand name but that is a decision to be made by the Alternative Mechanism (AM). Are we going to insist on the brand name being retained? Will we give them (private players) the freedom? (on the name). That is a decision to be taken by the AM,” said R N Choubey, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

With the decision of the Cabinet yesterday to grant in- principle approval for divestment of the national carrier, Air India’s history has come full circle.

It was nationalised in the year 1953, because it was perceived as a matter of national prestige. The government is now mulling over selling its stakes because of its massive debt of Rs 52,000 crore.

Air India's brand is also likely to carry huge valuation, according to senior officials at the airline.

“If the six-year-old Kingfisher brand was valued at Rs 3,500 crore, the valuation of the over 80-year Air India’s brand could be anybody’s guess,” said a source.

The carrier was born as Tata Airlines, when it was established by industrialist J R D Tata in 1932 with an initial investment of Rs 2 lakh from Tata Sons and two second-hand de Havilland Puss Moths.

J R D Tata himself piloted a single-engine plane carrying 25 kilograms of mail from Karachi to Bombay. An occasional passenger would be ferried perched on top of the mail bags.

In 1933, the first full year of operations, Tata Airlines flew 160,000 miles, carrying 155 passengers and 10.71 tonnes of mail.

The airline spread its wings for the first time overseas, to Colombo, in 1938. Tata Airlines went public and became a joint stock company in 1946, and was called Air India Ltd.On June 8, 1948, Air India International, with the famous Maharaja as its mascot, spread its wings to Europe.

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