Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Air India: Bombay-Lusaka, June 1980

Thirty-two years ago, Air India had a much wider reach than today. Air India of a quarter-century ago had more service to African than the airline does to southeast Asia. Here is a special cover from the Indian Posts and Telegraphs ministry celebrating the first flight to Lusaka, Zambia, from Bombay.

The trademark Maharaja makes an appearance, bowing his head next to the dark and perfectly crisp cancellation stamp, underneath a postmark with a lovely illustration of an AI jumbo in flight (although surely this was not used to central Africa). However it is the resplendent peacock which dominates the decoration, its head not bent in supplication but turned back to admire its own fan of plumage.

Although Air India once served not only Zambia but also Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania (as recently as 2006), Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria, today it does not land on African soil at all.

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