While it may take time for the Maharaja to regain its lost glory, the national carrier will officially reclaim the name it had to forego when Air India (AI) and Indian Airlines (IA) were merged into one entity — the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) — on Monday.
An “extraordinary meeting” of NACIL has been convened to effect the change in the company’s name to Air India Limited. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs had passed the final order on the merger on August 22, 2007, which was filed with the Registrar of Companies and the merger became effective on August 27. It had been decided that post-merger, the new entity would be called “Air India” while “Maharaja” would be retained as its mascot. Both AI and IA were dissolved.
“Air India’s name is synonymous with that of the national carrier. NACIL doesn’t sound like the name of an aviation company anyway,” a civil aviation ministry official said.
The ministry had written to NACIL a number of times during the last one year to change the company's name to Air India Limited. Hindustan Times had first reported in March on the ministry’s decision to change NACIL’s name and its reminders to the company asking the reason for the delay in changing the name to AI Limited.
There were other considerations as well for renaming the company. “The codes that have been allotted to us are in Air India’s name as also in most of the bilateral agreements that have been signed,” he said.
“The decision makes sense. NACIL was just an operating word and the name Air India always existed,” said Ankur Bhatia, executive director, Bird Group. Bhatia, however, felt that the real issue confronting the national carrier was the complete integration of the erstwhile IA and AI, which even three years after the merger continue to operate on different codes.
“They might rename it as Maharaja airlines as well…it doesn't matter… unless they solve this issue.” Maharaja