Air travel is a fastest means to reach in any part of the world. Domestic air services are looked after by Indian airlines and private airlines while the international airport service is looked after by Air India. Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi are the four major international airports of 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.
- Air India is responsible for international air services. It operates from international airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Panaji, Kochi, Amritsar, Guwahati and Ahmedabad. It connects India with almost all the continents of world through its services. Its main services are to the USA, Canada, Europe, the Russian Confederation, the Gulf/Middle East, East Asia, Far East, Africa and Australia. Its fleet has almost trebled from 13 air craft in 1960-61 to 35 in 2003-04. The number of passengers carried by Air India has increased manifold from 1.25 lakh in 1960-61 to 38.35 lakh in 2003-04. Endeavour has been made to enhance the operation of international sectors especially the Gulf routes which yield more profits.
- Indian Airlines handles domestic traffic and carries passengers, cargo and mail to different places in the country. It also provides services to 12 countries, viz., Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore, U.A.E., Oman, Myanmar and Kuwait. Its operations cover 69 destinations including 15 abroad. Its fleet strength has shown varying trends, falling from 88 in 1960-61 to 73 in 1970-71 and 49 in 1980-81. It rose to 59 in 1995-96 but again fell to 52 in 2001-02. In 2003-04, its fleet stood at 56.
- Vayudoot was set up in 1981 to augment the air transport in the country. It provided links with remote and inaccessible areas which were not covered by Indian Airlines. It commenced its services in February, 1981. The Government had initially approved air services to 14 stations in the North-Eastern region. Subsequently, 23 stations outside this region were added for linking by Vayudoot. Its fleet rose from 1 in 1981 to 20 in 1988-89 but fell to 16 in 1992-92 after which it was merged in Indian Airlines. Its network which linked remote, inaccessible and thickly forested areas of the North-Eastern region has been taken over by the newly created Short Haul Operations Department of Indian Airlines.
- Pawan Hans Limited was established in 1985. It provides helicopter services to the petroleum sector including ONGC, Oil India Ltd. and Enron Oil and Gas, Mumbai High and connects remote and inaccessible areas. The company has a strong presence in North-East having its helicopters deployed in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura. Apart from this it also provides services to certain state governments such as Punjab, M.P., Lakshadweep and public sector undertakings like NTPC, GAIL, and BSF.
- Private taxis started their services in 1990 and played feeder role to Indian Airlines. Only four parties ventured in this area at that time due to the restrictive environment. In a major policy change, the Government repealed the Air Corporation Act 1953 on March 1, 1994, thereby ending the monopoly of Indian Airlines and Air India on the scheduled operations.
- There are around 449 airports/airstrips in the country in various stages of development. Of these, 314 are considered serviceable but only 81 airports are in operation.
- The top six airports account for 70 per cent of the domestic air traffic while top 25 airports account for more than 90 per cent of air traffic.
- In cargo, the top in airports account for about 87 of the total traffic.
- Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Amritsar, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Panaji and Guwahati have one international airport each.
- International Airports Authority of India and National Airports Authority were merged on 1 April, 1995 to form Airports Authority of India (AAI). This authority is responsible for providing safe an efficient air traffic services and aeronautical communication services for effective control of air traffic in the Indian air space. It controls and manages the entire Indian space even beyond the territorial limits of the country in accordance to the norms set by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It comprises of International Airport Division (IAD) and National Airports Division (NAD).
- The International Airports Division (IAD) of AAI operates and develops international airports. It has undertaken construction of terminal complexes at various international airports and improvement and upgradation of runways and terminal buildings.
- National Airport Division (NAD) looks after domestic airports.
- As of 2013, there are 45 heliports in India.
- India also has the world’s highest helipad at the Siachen Glacier a height of 6400 metre (21,000 ft) above mean sea level.
- Given below is the list of some major airports in India:
|Veer Savarkar International Airport||Port Blair||Andaman and Nicobar Islands|
|Visakhapatnam Airport||Visakhapatnam||Andhra Pradesh|
|Rajiv Gandhi International Airport||Hyderabad||Telangana|
|Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport||Guwahati||Assam|
|Indira Gandhi International Airport||New Delhi||Delhi|
|Goa International Airport||whole state||Goa|
|Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport||Ahmedabad||Gujarat|
|Kempegowda International Airport||Bengaluru||Karnataka|
|Mangalore International Airport||Mangalore||Karnataka|
|Cochin International Airport||Kochi||Kerala|
|Calicut International Airport||Kozhikode||Kerala|
|Trivandrum International Airport||Thiruvananthapuram||Kerala|
|Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport||Mumbai||Maharashtra|
|Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport||Nagpur||Maharashtra|
|Biju Patnaik International Airport||Bhubaneswar||Odisha|
|Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport||Amritsar||Punjab|
|Jaipur International Airport||Jaipur||Rajasthan|
|Chennai International Airport||Chennai||Tamil Nadu|
|Coimbatore International Airport||Coimbatore||Tamil Nadu|
|Tiruchirapalli International Airport||Tiruchirapalli||Tamil Nadu|
|Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport||Lucknow||Uttar Pradesh|
|Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport||Varanasi||Uttar Pradesh|
|Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport||Kolkata||West Bengal|