Skip to main content

Air Transport in India

Air transport being the most modern and the quickest mode of transport has been gaining popularity. However, the exorbitant rates have made it the mode of travel of the rich or of the business community for whom time is more expensive than air travel. But the entry of private Airlines and their various schemes have reduced airfare drastically. The recent tax relaxation on air fuel and such sops will further make air travel within the reach of a greater section of the Indian Populace.

India had bilateral air services agreements with 93 countries as on May 31, 1999. Air India Limited is the major international carrier of the country. It operates services to USA Europe, the Russian Confederation, the Gulf/Middle East, East Asia, Far East and Africa. Air India owns a fleet of 26 aircraft consisting of six B-747-200, two B747-300 (Combi), seven B747-400, three A 300-B4 and eight A 310-300 aircraft. During 1998-99, Air India carried 3.15 million passengers as against 3.06 million in 1997-98.

Indian Airlines is the major domestic air carrier of the country. It operates to 57 domestic stations (including Alliance Air operations) and 17 international stations in 14 countries, viz., Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, UAE, Oman, Myanmar, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. Its operations, including Alliance Air cover 76 destinations including 16 abroad. The Airlines owns a fleet of eleven A-300, thirty A-320, twelve B-737 and three Dornier -228 aircraft. All Boeing B- 737 aircrafts are being operated by its wholly owned subsidiary Alliance Air.

The domestic scene is now dotted with private airlines as the government has now very wisely ended the monopoly of Indian Airlines. The International service is however, still the monopoly of Air India as the private operators are only allowed to operate within the country. Some of the leading domestic private airlines are Air Sahara, Jet Airways and Air Deccan. The government has been in the process of disinvestment of both Indian Airlines and Air India for the betterment of services.

Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited has been providing helicopter support services to the petroleum sector including ONGC, Oil India Limited and Hardy Exploration at Chennai. Apart from these, it also provides services to certain state governments and public sector undertakings and in the northeastern states.

Foreign airlines carrying international passenger traffic to and from India existed long before Independence. Their operations are governed by bilateral agreements signed from time to time between the Government of India and the governments of respective countries. In 1980-81, the number of such airlines was 35. It rose to 49 in 1996-97.The share of foreign airlines in India's scheduled international traffic has increased. In 1971, their share was 55.58 per cent, which went up to 65 per cent and declined to 58 per cent during 1972-75. It fell to 55.72 per cent in 1976 and further to 55.02 per cent in 1977. Between 1978 and 1990 it gradually increased and rose to 75.93 per cent. In 1996, the share was nearly 72 per cent.

The development of airports is no longer solely under the public sector; instead private participation is allowed and encouraged. An International green field airport has been developed in Cochin, Kerala, with contributions from NRIs and loans from financial institutions. Approval for the reconstruction of four Metro Airports ( Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai) has been given to make them world class. New International airports are to be set up in Banglore, Hyderabad and Goa with the help of the private sector.

Click here to See Air Network Of India
Transportation in India