Flight Plan

How some global airlines took shape all those years ago

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on August 07, 2019

We all fly global airlines but how many of us know the origins of these airlines? With Air Canada set to relaunch its India operations on October 3, we trace the history of four global airlines from different continents that have flown to or continue to fly to India.

Air Canada

Air Canada came into being on April 10, 1937, when Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) was incorporated by royal assent in Parliament to coordinate air transport across the country. In 1948, Aircargo (now called Air Canada Cargo) officially hit the skies.

A 10-day strike by the national railway in August 1950 helped TCA introduce thousands of people to air travel. Thirty new routes were added in the 1950s, including Paris, Brussels and Antigua. Over the same period, Canadian Pacific Air Lines, which later merged with Air Canada, inaugurated services to Lima, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

On January 1, 1954, Air Canada was semi-officially christened Air Canada and it became the new official French name for Trans-Canada Air Lines. The airline celebrated its 50th anniversary by issuing a commemorative 36 cent Canada post stamp in 1987. Air Canada will restart daily operations to Delhi from October 3 this year.


Attempts were made to restart an airline in Germany when it was still recovering from the World War. In May 1951, the then Transport Minister appointed Hans M Bongers to advise the Federal Government on issues relating to German aviation in the future.

The Corporation for Air Transport Requirement, “Luftag” for short, was founded in January 1953. In August 1954, its name was changed to Deutsche Lufthansa AG. In 1955, Lufthansa started operations on German routes with special permission from the Allies and when Paris treaties went into effect they granted the Federal Republic of Germany its sovereignty, including its air sovereignty. The first scheduled Lufthansa flight on the southern route to Asia took off in November 1959 which connected Hamburg-Dusseldorf-Frankfurt-Rome-Karachi-Calcutta and Bangkok.

In 1975, the airline carried more than 10 million passengers in a year. By April 1992, the airline was flying to 201 destinations in 87 countries. In 2005, the airline’s supervisory board and the Board of Directors of SWISS approved its integration into the Lufthansa group. This was the first of the many airlines that Lufthansa either integrated with or acquired a stake in. The airline currently flies to multiple destinations in India.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines came into existence in 1972 before which it flew as Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA). MSA was split into Malaysian Airline System and Singapore Airlines in 1972. The genesis of Singapore Airlines can be traced back to May 1, 1947, when Malayan Airways Limited (MAL) Airspeed Consul took off from Singapore’s Kallang Airport. This was the first of its three flights a week to Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang. In 1981, the airline’s first Airbus A-300 Superbus flew to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta while two years later its first Boeing 747-300 flew to Los Angeles via Tokyo.

In 1989, Tradewinds, SIA’s subsidiary, was announced as Singapore’s second airline and two years later personal satellite-based phones on board allowed passengers to stay in touch with people on the ground when flying.

In 1993, a wax work of the Singapore Girl was unveiled at Madame Tussauds while, in 2001, Krisworld became the first to provide audio-video on demand to all passengers in all classes on SIA. Six years later the airline took delivery of the world’s first Airbus A-380 and in 2009 it celebrated flying one million passengers on the Jumbo. Currently the SIA Group, which includes SilkAir and Scoot, has 140 weekly services to India, with Singapore Airlines having 56 weekly services connecting 13 cities in the country.


Australian airline Qantas almost did not take off. The story of Qantas began in March 1919, when a pair of Gallipoli veterans and former Australian Flying Corps officers heard of a £10,000 prize offered by the Federal Government for the first Australians to fly from England to Australia within 30 days. But they did not get the money for the flight. The Qantas website points out that the setback was fortuitous for Australian aviation: “If the wartime friends had entered the race they might not have thought of their air service and Qantas would not have risen from the scorched outback of western Queensland to become a great international airline.” Qantas is an abbreviation for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd, the company that started the airline. It flies across the world. It also operated to Mumbai but has since withdrawn the service.

Source: Various websites

Published on August 07, 2019

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