Air India first flight Route Evolution  1955 - 1960 

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Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Tokyo
Via Calcutta, Bangkok, Hong Kong.
7 May 1955

Type of Aircraft: Lockheed Constellation. L-749A
Name of Aircraft: Maratha Princess,
Registration Mark: VT-DAR,

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Tokyo Via Calcutta Bangkok Hong Kong 7 May 1955
Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Tokyo Via Calcutta Bangkok Hong Kong 7 May 1955

Presenting you a  rare and Unique Air India first flight cover

Air India would have been planning to start their Bombay Tokyo (Tokio) leg on 14. 08.1954. i.e 14th august 1954. So the sender sent this flight cover from Germany on 14th august 1954 addressed to air India Tokyo via Bombay.

The cover would have been received by air India Bombay and retained till the actual first flight took place on 7th may 1955. The cover bears since Tokyo arrival cancel of 9th may 1955. The mail was redirected or sent back to the sender. Left Tokyo on 6th June 1955 and was received back in Germany on 8th June 1955.

This is the only example seen by me until now where a mail was held by the airline for so long so as to fly on the first flight , almost 8.5 months. That also explains why Air India was the best

AIR INDIA first flight cover_7th May 1955 bombay tokyo
AIR INDIA first flight cover_7th May 1955 bombay tokyo

Air India extended its service to Tokyo on 7th May 1955 via Calcutta , Bangkok & Hong Kong.
Here is a Unique flight cover designed by Shavak Mistry using Air India Luggage label with Shinjuku cancel dated 10th May 1955.

The Original Complete Luggage Label is shown below.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Tokyo Via Calcutta Bangkok Hong Kong 7 May 1955

Air-India mascot The Maharajah.

AIR INDIA first flight cover_7th May 1955 bombay tokyo
AIR INDIA_7th May 1955 Bombay Tokyo_0002
AIR INDIA first flight cover_7th May 1955 bombay tokyo

Another cover by Shavak Mistry with a souvenir card also enclosed is his letter head. Also addressed to Shinjuku.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Tokyo Via Calcutta Bangkok Hong Kong 7 May 1955
Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Tokyo Via Calcutta Bangkok Hong Kong 7 May 1955

Another cover sent by Shavak Mistry a Philatelist from Bombay. 10th May 1955 Tokyo receiving mark at the back. Inaugural Rubber cachet on the front

AIR INDIA_7th May 1955 Bombay Tokyo_0004
AIR INDIA_7th May 1955 Bombay Tokyo_0005

Top cover sent by Mukhi a Philatelic dealer in Bombay. DLO cancel at the back. Bottom cover has a beautiful quadrille paper effect by storing inside quadrille pages.

air india first flight covers_7th May 1955 Bombay Tokyo_0006
air india first flight covers_7th May 1955 Bombay Tokyo_0007

Air India souvenir cover sent to Tokyo, cancelled at Tokyo.

Here the Maharajah is seen greeting a girl dressed in Kimono in the traditional Japanese way.

Air India flew the aircraft "Rani Of IND" 
Bombay to London Via Beirut and Zurich on 4 July 1955

Type of Aircraft: Lockheed Constellation.L-1049G
Name of Aircraft: Rani of Ind,
Registration Mark: VT-DGM

Air India First Flight Cover Zurich Bombay 5 July 1955
Type of Aircraft: Lockheed Constellation. L-749A

AIR INDIA first flight cover_5th july 1955 zurich bombay
AIR INDIA first flight cover_5th july 1955 zurich bombay

Air India introduced Zurich as a stop in the Bombay London route on 5th July 1955, this is a unique cover received in Bombay on 9th July.
Swissair Envelope was used, also the return address is of Swissair.

AIR INDIA FIRST FLIGHT ZURICH  BOMBAY1955.jpg
AIR INDIA FIRST FLIGHT ZURICH  BOMBAY1955..png

Another example of this unique cover flew from Zurich on the 5th and received in Bombay on 8th July.
Swissair Envelope was used, also the return address is of Swissair.
Only 15 covers were carried . Bombay Zurich might also be possible though not known to exist.

Air India First Flight Cover Singapore Paris Via Bombay Rome 4th September 1955

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Singapore 7 september1955
AIR INDIA first flight cover_4th september 1955 singapore bombay

Air India souvenir cover sent from Singapore to Bombay. The flight flew to Paris via Bombay and Rome. Receiving Bombay Stamp at the back

AIR INDIA first flight cover_4th september 1955 singapore paris rome
AIR INDIA first flight cover_4th september 1955 singapore paris rome

Air India souvenir cover sent from Singapore to Rome.Bombay.  Receiving Rome Stamp at the back

AIR INDIA first flight cover_4th september 1955 singapore paris

Air India souvenir cover sent from Singapore to Paris. Receiving Paris Stamp at the front.

Air India First Flight Cover Rome Prague 4 April 1956
Type of Aircraft: Vickers Viscount VV700.

Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956
Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956

Further route expansion saw Prague getting connected to Rome. Here is an Air India souvenir cover with Italian stamps, Prague comet cancel at the back. Primo volo Rubber cachet on the front.
A postage of 207 Lire had been pasted and cancelled on this cover, though postage of 100 lire was sufficient for Praha. Cancel 4-4-56, ROMA FERR POSTA AEREA SEZ A.  Air India Stationery was used with the telephone numbers were updated on the covers

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Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956
Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956
Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956
Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956

Again an Air India souvenir cover with Italian stamps, a faint blue cancel at the back "Calnice Praha-132" . Primo volo Rubber cachet on the front.
A postage of 107 Lire had been pasted and cancelled on this cover, though postage of 100 lire was sufficient for Praha. Cancel 4-4-56, ROMA FERR POSTA AEREA SEZ A.  Air India Stationery was used with updated telephone numbers .

Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956
Air India First Flight Cover Rome Praga Praha Prague 4 April 1956

This looks like a commercial cover which travelled in the first flight and has received the Primo volo Rubber cachet on the front.
A postage of 10 Lire had been pasted and cancelled on this cover.
Cancel 4-4-56, ROMA FERR POSTA AEREA SEZ A. 

Air India First Flight Cover Prague Delhi Bombay  6th April 1956

1956 PRAGUE DELHI BOMBAY air india first flight cover.JPG

Further route expansion saw Prague getting connected to Bombay via Delhi. 

1956 PRAGUE DELHI BOMBAY air india first flight cover.JPG
1956 PRAGUE DELHI BOMBAY air india first flight cover.JPG

A rare private Flight cover from Prague to Bombay via Delhi. 

A smudged Bombay receiving cancel at the back.

air india first flight coverPRAHA BOMBAY 1956.png
air india first flight cover PRAHA BOMBAY 1956..png

A rare unmailed picture postcard with a CTO postmark.

Air India First Flight Cover Rome Sydney 4 October 1956

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 air india first flight cover Rome Sydney 4 October 1956.png
 air india first flight cover Rome Sydney 4 October 1956.png

Further route expansion saw Rome getting connected to Sydney. Here is an Air India souvenir cover with Italian stamps and a Primo volo rubber cachet on the front, Sydney cancel at the back. Souvenir card also enclosed which additionally now shows Super-G constellation. A postage of 140 Lire pasted and Cancelled 4-10-56, ROMA FERR POSTA AEREA SEZ A. An Air India Par Avion sticker on the front.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore
Type of Aircraft: Super Constellation L-1049G.
Name of Aircraft: Rani Of Golconda,
Registration Mark: VT-DIL,
Pilots: Capt. H.B. Mistry to Singapore,
Capt. K. Mathen to Singapore.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png
Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png
Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png
Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png

Further route expansion saw Bombay getting connected to Sydney via Madras and Singapore and Darwin. Here are 2 Air India souvenir covers with both Bombay and Madras cancel,  Bombay with a blue flight cachet and Madras with a black flight cachet, Sydney cancel at the back. 
Type of Aircraft: Super Constellation 1049-G.
Frequency of Service: Once a week.
Here the Maharajah is seen riding the Kangaroo like a Jockey.

rare unique Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png
rare unique Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png

Here is an private registered mail from Germany addressed to Sydney.  Stamps of 230 Deutsche mark have been applied and tied with  Dresden Postmark dated 26 September 1956. It arrived at Bombay Airport on 5th Oct 56 and further travelled to Cairo receiving cancel at the back of 8 OC 1955, A DLO cancel of Sydney dated 23 Oct 56 ,after that travelled back to sender in Dresden by Surface mail arriving on 31st December 1956.

rare unique Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png
rare unique Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 5 October 1956 Via Madras & Singapore.png

Here is an private registered mail from Germany addressed to Cairo an intermediate stop.  Stamps of 105 Deutsche mark have been applied and tied with  Dresden Postmark dated 26 September 1956. Cairo receiving cancel at the back of 5 OC 1955, after that travelled back to sender in Dresden by Surface mail arriving on 18th Jan 1957.

air india first flight cover_5TH OCTOBER 1956 BOMBAY MADRAS
air india first flight cover_5TH OCTOBER 1956 BOMBAY MADRAS

Here is an private Air Mail with the flight cachet , senders address from Belgaum (Southern India).

Air India First Flight Cover Sydney London 8 October 1956

air india first flight cover _8TH OCTOBER 1956 SYDNEY LONDON
air india first flight cover _8TH OCTOBER 1956 SYDNEY LONDON

Air India souvenir cover for the return journey connecting Sydney to London via Bombay. Here is an Air India souvenir cover with Australian  stamps. The Maharajah and the Gentelman he is meeting can be seen on the coasters(beer mats) also.

Air India First Flight Cover Delhi Moscow 14 August 1958
Type of Aircraft: Super Constellation L-1049G.
Name of Aircraft: Rani Of Bijapur,
Registration Mark: VT-DJW,
Frequency of service: Once a week.
Pilot: Capt. Vishwanath

air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW
air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW

Further route expansion saw Delhi getting connected to Moscow via Tashkent. Here is an Air India souvenir cover with dual cancels at the back dated 15th and the return flight date 18th.

Here on the cover shows the Kutub Minar in Delhi and the Saint Basils Cathedral in Moscow.

rare unique error air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png
rare unique error air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png

Here is an Air India souvenir cover with dual cancels at the back dated 15th and the return flight date 18th.
Here on the cover the green colour is missing so the Kutub Minar cannot be seen only the Saint Basils Cathedral is visible.

rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png
rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png

 Here is a private Air Mail with dual cancels at the back dated 15th and the return flight date 18th.

rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png

Air-India Moscow Tashkent New Delhi  Private cover.

Sent from

Germany.

This FFC was sent before the official cover of

14th August 1958.

FFC received in Delhi on 29th July 1958.

rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png
air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW_

Some private covers Delhi Moscow

This cover marks the return journey of the flight from Moscow to Delhi on the 18th, with Delhi arrival cancel of 19th.

Some private unaddressed covers bearing the dual cancel of both 15th and 18th.

rare unique air india first flight cover 15th 18th AUGUST 1958 moscow delhi.png
rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 moscow delhi.png
rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png
rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png
rare unique air india first flight cover 14TH AUGUST 1958 DELHI MOSCOW.png

Private cover with 15th cancel addressed to Moscow.

Air India First Flight delivery London Bombay

21st February 1960

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 jet engine.

Name of Aircraft: Annapoorna

Registration mark:  VT-DJJ.

Pilots: Capt. Byramjee and Capt. Shirodkar Flew Non-Stop 8hrs-5 mins to Bombay. Only for Info- Flight cover not known.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay London 19th April 1960

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 jet engine.

Name of Aircraft: Annapoorna

Registration mark:  VT-DJJ.

Pilots: Capt. Byramjee to Cairo, Capt. K.R. Guzder to London

Frequency of service: Twice weekly.

rare unique signed air india first flight cover 19th April1960 bombay london

Bombay London signed cover by Pilots K.R Guzder and Byramji

air india first flight cover 19th April1960 bombay london

This flight covers marks the start of jet engine age , by 1962 Air India became the first airline to have complete fleet of Jet engines.

The cover shows the Silhouette of 3 Boeings flying in the Air. The back ground represents colors of our National Flag.

rare unique air india first flight cover 19th April1960 bombay london

Air India stationery used for the flight Flight cover bears the cachet.

1960 bombay london air india first fligt cover ffc1.png
1960 bombay london air india first fligt cover ffc.png

Air India First Flight Cover Rome Bombay 21 April 1960

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707

AIR INDIA_21 APRIL 1960 ROME BOMBAY.jpg

Rome Bombay flown on 21st April 1960 on an Air India International souvenir cover with an address card and a souvenir card.

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Cover Addressed to Delhi from Germany it flew Rome Bombay sector on 21st April 1960 . Received in Delhi on 22 April 1960 and sent to Germany from Delhi  on the 23rd.

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Air India First Flight Cover Bombay New York

14 May 1960

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 jet engine.

Name of Aircraft: Annapurna

Registration mark:  VT-DJJ.

Frequency of service: Once a week.

Pilots: K.R. Guzder, Bilimoria (Bombay to New York)

R.V. Goday ( New York to Bombay)

AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK.
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_
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The cover shows the Maharajah offering a Hookah to the Native Red Indian Chief and the Chief offering the Peace Pipe as a sign of Good will and Friendship.

The above 2 covers signed by Pilots: Capt.K.R. Guzder and D.J. Bilimoria.

Please click on the link below to know more about these flight's and the Pilot K.R. Guzder.

AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_

Bombay New-York First flight on 14th May 1960.

The flight flew 8500 miles route to New York via Beirut, Zurich, Paris & London.

AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_

Unique Bombay New-York First flight covers sent to Paris and Zurich stopovers.

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14th May 1960 - The 8500 mile journey was made via Beirut, Zurich, Paris and London to New York. This flight cover is for Paris to New York sector.

AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_

Private Bombay New-York Flight Cover with the Maharajah print.

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1960 bombay new york air india first fligt cover ffcb.png
1960 bombay london air india first fligt cover ffc2.png
1960 bombay london air india first fligt cover ffc2b.png
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AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 BOMBAY NEW YORK_

Flight cover covering the Bombay New-York Sector.

Signed by Pilots K.R. Guzder and Bilimoria.

Special Metuchen and New york cancel at the back.

Air India First Flight Cover  New York Bombay

14 May 1960

The return covers can be categorised by the stamps applied(2 types USA and UN stamps), or by the colour of the cachet( mainly 4), or lastly by the sender or destination.

USA stamps

AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_

The cover on top is quite a unique one sent from New-York, firstly the stamp has come  off , secondly it was stamped retour-inconnu and sent back to sender's address in Germany. There is a plethora of delivery cancels at the back.

AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_
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AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_

United Nations stamps

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AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY.
AIR INDIA_14TH MAY 1960 NEW YORK BOMBAY_
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AIR INDIA_14th MAY 1960  NEY YORK BOMBAY

4 different color flight cachets for New York to Bombay.

Colour of the Cachet

1960 air india new york bombay first flight cover ffc.png
1960 air india new york bombay first flight cover ffc1.png
1960 air india new york bombay first flight cover ffc2.png
1960 air india new york bombay first flight cover ffc3.png

Air India First Flight Cover Rome New York 20 May 1960

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707

AIR INDIA_20TH MAY 1960 ROME NEW YORK _0
AIR INDIA_20TH MAY 1960 ROME NEW YORK _0

On 2oth May 1960 Rome was added as a stop in Bombay New York Sector. Also enclosed Souvenir card.

AIR INDIA_20TH MAY 1960 ROME NEW YORK .j
AIR INDIA_20TH MAY 1960 ROME NEW YORK _0

Unique Vatican stamps and San Marino stamps on the Rome New-York  flight cover

Air India First Flight Cover Calcutta, Bombay, Cairo, Rome, Frankfurt, London , New York  09 June 1960

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707

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Air-India International inaugurated the First Flight of their Boeing 707 Jet service from Calcutta to New-York sector. Cover showing all the stops. Calcutta , Bombay, Cairo, Rome, Frankfurt, London and New-York.

Following Information given by Jal Cooper

Only these many Covers exist's of this flight.

Calcutta to Cairo, Frankfurt,Rome, London- only  62 each carried.

Calcutta to New York- only 171 carried.

Air India First Flight Cover Geneva Bombay 03 July 1960

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707

AIR INDIA_3RD JULY 1960 GENEVA BOMBAY.jp
AIR INDIA_3RD JULY 1960 GENEVA BOMBAY_00

Further route expansion saw Geneva connected to Bombay. Seen here Geneva Bombay cover with both Liechtenstein and Swiss stamps.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Bahrien,

04 Oct 1960

Type of Aircraft: Super Constellation L-1049C,

Name of Aircraft: Rani of IND,

Registration Mark: VT-DGM

Pilot: Capt. Screwvala

Frequency of Service: Once a week.

AIR INDIA_4TH OCT 1960 BOMBAY BAHRIEN_00
AIR INDIA_4TH OCT 1960 BOMBAY BAHRIEN_00
AIR INDIA_4TH OCT 1960 BOMBAY BAHRIEN_00

4th October 1960 Bahrein was connected to Bombay on the India UK route.

The Maharajah is seen greeting a Sheikh and offering him a flower.

The bottom cover again due to storing in Quadrille pages has given a beautiful Quadrille paper effect to the cover.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Kuwait

04 Oct 1960

Type of Aircraft: Super Constellation L-1049C,

Name of Aircraft: Rani of IND,

Registration Mark: VT-DGM

Pilot: Capt. Screwvala

Frequency of Service: Once a week.

AIR INDIA_4TH OCT 1960 BOMBAY KUWAIT.jpg
AIR INDIA_4TH OCT 1960 BOMBAY KUWAIT_000

4th Oct 1960 also connected Kuwait to Bombay via Karachi and Bahrein.