Route Evolution  1971 - 1980

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The morning of 18 April 1971 represented the proudest moment in Air India's history as the first Boeing 747-237B registered VT-EBD touched down at Bombay, catapulting the airline into a select group of international carriers to operate this "747th wonder of the world". To commemorate this occasion, a new livery was introduced in a "Your Palace In The Sky" theme featuring Rajasthani arches individually painted around every window on the main deck.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay London 21 May 1971

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

Name of the Aircraft: Emperor Ashoka,

Registration mark: VT-EBD

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Inaugural flight to London on May 21, 1971.

The cover shows a reproduction of a miniature painting ( Basohli, 18th century) from the "Geet Govind" representing Lord Krishna and the Gopi's

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Above cover is with a red flight cachet instead of a Blue one.

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Post & Telegraph issued a souvenir cover to commemorate the operation of Bombay- London Service by Air India with Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

Date: 21st May 1971.

2 type of covers shown here one is a book post, the other is Registered.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Frankfurt 21 May 1971

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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21st May 1971 Bombay Frankfurt

The cover commemorates the arrival of Boeing Jumbo 747 first visit to Frankfurt from Bombay

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay New York 26 May 1971

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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Post & Telegraph issued a souvenir cover to commemorate the operation of Bombay- New York Service by Air India with Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

Date: 26th May 1971.

2 type of covers shown here one is a book post, the other is Registered.

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Error Flight Cachet on the cover, Bombay London instead of Bombay New York.

Air India First Flight Cover Geneve Dhahran Dharhan 26 May 1971

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These covers show the Inaugural flight of Air-India between Geneva and Dharhan ( Dhahran ) on May 26, 1971. The top cover has a cancel of 26 May 1971 from United Nations. The bottom cover was erroneously cancelled on the 5th May 1971, the post office has applied a rubber cachet at the back explaining the error.

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These covers show the Inaugural flight of Air-India between Geneva and Dharhan ( Dhahran ) on May 26, 1971. The top cover has a cancel of 21 May 1971 with Liechtenstein stamps. The bottom cover has Swiss stamps and is cancelled on the 26th from the Geneve Airport.

Air India First Flight Cover Dacca Delhi Bombay London 04 February 1972

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This cover show the Inaugural flight of Air-India between Dacca and London via Delhi and Bombay on Feb 04, 1972. The cover has a cancel of Dacca GPO and has the address of Air India office in Dacca and London.

Air India First Flight Cover Geneva Bombay 14 June 1972

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

Aircraft: AI104

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These covers show the Inaugural flight of Air-India between Geneva and Bombay on June 14, 1972. The covers have a cancel of 14 June 1972 from United Nations.

The Maharajah is seen here seated on top of an Elephant which represents  Jumbo 747. Also seen 4 air-hostesses taking care of the Maharajah.

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Air India First Flight Cover Geneva Bombay 14 June 1972 - Variety

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Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Osaka 3 November 1972

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 Jet.

Name of the aircraft: Trishul

Marking: VT-DXT

Pilots: Capt D.R.K.Mundle (Bombay-Hong Kong)

Capt Shirodkar (Hong Kong Osaka)

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Air India Inaugurated its first flight to Osaka , Japan on 2nd November 1972.

Here the Maharajah is seen with a Japanese lady both looking like a Butterfly. Osaka has a Butterfly garden established amongst the natural beauty of the Meiji-no-Mori Minoh Quasi-National Park in 1953, the Insect Museum is a 15-minute walk up the "takimichi" waterfall path from Hankyu Minoh Station. In the butterfly garden, visitors can enjoy the year-round sight of fluttering tropical butterflies that would normally only be found in Okinawa or on the islands off Kyushu.

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Post and Telegraphs fdc to commemorate 25 years of Air India First Flight 

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Post & Telegraph issued a First day cover to commemorate 25 years of International Service of Air India , which started on the 8th June 1948 between Bombay and London. The cover showing 2 globes one showing in 1948 the route between Bombay and London via Cairo and Geneva and the other globe showing in 1973 how the network has increased over these 25 years.

Special stamp was also issued for this showing the tail of an Air India aircraft.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Doha 01 November 1973

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 Jet.

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Air India inaugurated its new route to Doha on 1st November 1973 by a Boeing 707 jet.

Frequency of Service: Once a week.

The cover shows the Maharajah dressed as an Arab, seated on a Camel listening to music on a radio, the date is shown in the form of Musical notes. In the back ground is shown a Clock tower an Iconic landmark in Doha.
The Clock Tower is located next to the Grand Mosque, this old clock tower features Arabic numerals on its face.
 

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Muscat 12 February 1974

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 Jet.

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Air India inaugurated its new route to Muscat on 12th February 1974 by a Boeing 707 jet.

Frequency of Service: Once a week.

The cover shows a rider going through the desert on a camel  date tree in the background.

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This cover has a red flight instead of a blue one.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Sydney 29 March 1976

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 777 Jumbo Jet.

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On 29th March 1976 Air India inaugurated its route to Sydney on a Boeing 747.

Monday service operating direct between Bombay- Perth and Friday service via Madras- Singapore- Perth.

The cover shows a Boeing 747 flying above the Opera House in Sydney.

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This cover has no flight cachet.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Baghdad 06 April 1976

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 Jet.

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On 6th April 1976 Air India inaugurated its route to Baghdad on a Boeing 707.

The cover shows the maharajah sitting on a coconut tree, offering coconut to a local beauty also sitting on a date tree, who is offering him a bunch of dates in exchange.

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This cover shows a wrong flight cachet, Baghdad Bombay instead of Bombay Baghdad

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Seychelles 25 June 1976

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 Jet.

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On 25th June 1976 Air India inaugurated its route to Seychelles via Mauritius on a Boeing 707.

The cover shows the Maharajah in a swim suit sitting inside a huge Sea Shell on the beach cuddling to a Mermaid.

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This cover shows a red flight cachet instead of a blue one.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Dubai 4 August 1976

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 4th August 1976 Air India inaugurated its route to Dubai on a Boeing 747.

The cover shows a Boeing 747 flying above  and below is the Maharajah in the dress of a Caravan leader leading a camel proudly strutting, showing on its back the announcement of Air India's first jumbo flight to Dubai. It shows the arches which are painted on the windows on the Jumbo 747.

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Shown here are 2 private covers flown from Bombay to Dubai. One has a Flight cachet and a receiving cancel and other just addressed to Dubai.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay London 19 December 1976

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 707 Jet.

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On 19th December 1976 Air India inaugurated its route to Lagos, Nigeria on a Boeing 747.

The cover shows a Nigerian lady wearing the traditional headgear called Gele with the Maharajah and his Turban motiff printed on it.

 Many Nigerian women regularly wear something to cover their hair.  It's an easy solution when facing a bad hair day, and it's also an attractive way to accessorize an outfit.  " Gele" a head tie, sometimes called head wrap is the formal head-dress tied in different fashions like a turban.  

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay London 21 May 1971

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 19th December 1976 Air India inaugurated its route to Accra , Ghana via Lagos, Nigeria on a Boeing 747.

Lot of creativity is shown in designing all these flight covers. It shows a lot about the country and its local produce.

Accra cover shows these traditional Ghanian products and its people . Ashanti also known as Asante are an ethnic group native to the Ashanti Region of modern-day Ghana

1) Top left corner shows a Ashanti stool DVA. Ashanti stools are a symbol of status and power. They are carved from a single block of wood, with a flat base, a crescent-shaped seat and complex geometrically carved support structure. Their designs are rich in symbolism.

2) Left middle shows a Bolgatanga Baskets woven by men of the FraFra tribe in the northern town of Bolgatanga, these colourful baskets can be used as large standing laundry baskets, shopping baskets, and smaller handbags.

3) Maharajah is shown wearing a Woven Kente shirt .One of Ghana’s national cloths, this heavy cotton fabric comes in a combination of colours—each affixed with different meanings—and has been made on traditional looms for centuries. Original woven kente is heavy, rich, and is a marvel of craftsmanship and history.

4) Maharajah can also be seen inside the Ivory trumpet or the blowing horn.

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A private cover is shown over here.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Jeddah 13 April 1977

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jet.

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On 13th April 1977 Air India inaugurated its route to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a Boeing 747.

The Maharajah is seen as an Arab inscribed as an embellishment on a traditional Saudi dagger 'Janbiyah'.  Janbiyah is a short broad double-sided curved blade of iron, with a hilt made of silver, polished wood, bone, sandalwood, water buffalo, horn of ibex or rhino (among the most expensive antique ones, since hunting for rhinoceros is nowadays prohibited), decorated with embellishments or semiprecious stones. It sits in a sheath which is also handmade of wood and heavily decorated with leather and silver. It’s easy to tell of social status of a man judging by the janbiyah he is wearing.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Bahrain  01 November 1978

Type of Aircraft: Airbus A-300.

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Air India First Flight Cover Bahrain Qatar 01 November 1978

Type of Aircraft: Airbus A-300.

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On 01 November 1978 Air India flew it Airbus A300 Bombay to Bahrain and back. Also Airbus A300-B on 5th November 1978 from Doha to Bombay via Bahrain.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Ras Al Khaymah 21 May 1971

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 16th November 1978 Air India inaugurated its route to Ras-Al Khaymah on a Boeing 747.

The Maharajah can be seen here offering a rose to the Shiekh.

Air India First Flight Cover Delhi Tokyo 01 January 1980

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 1st January 1980 Air India inaugurated its first flight  to Tokyo on a Boeing 747 from Delhi and back on 9th January 1980.

Air India First Flight Cover Calcutta Tokyo 02 February 1980

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 1st January 1980 Air India inaugurated its first flight  to Tokyo on a Boeing 747 from Calcutta and back on 4th January 1980.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Tokyo 04 January 1980

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 4th January 1980 Air India inaugurated its first flight  to Tokyo on a Boeing 747 from Bombay.

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5th January 1980 Tokyo Bombay FFC - Aircraft flown Boeing 747

Air India First Flight Cover Calcutta, Paris, London, Rome, New York 07 January 1980

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 7th January 1980 Air India inaugurated its first flight  to America on a Boeing 747 from Calcutta via Paris London, Rome to New York.

This cover is from Calcutta to Paris.

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The top Cover has delivery mark of PARIS 01- Poste Restante of 11 Jan 1980.

The lower cover has delivery mark of PARIS 01- Poste Restante of 10 Jan 1980. Retour Envoi cancel on the front.

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Lusaka 02 June 1980

Air India First Flight Cover Bombay Melbourne 05 June 1980

Type of Aircraft: Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.

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On 2nd June Air India inaugurated its first flight  to Lusaka,Zambia  from Bombay and back.

On 5th June Air India inaugurated its first flight  to Melbourne, Australia  from Bombay and back.