In a densely globalized economy, air transport is a key element in the country’s transport infrastructure. The Indian aviation industry has grown by leaps and bounds since the first airplane flew in February 1911. The set-up of Tata airline by J.R.D. Tata in 1932, saw the birth of the Indian aviation industry. Tata airline was later acquired by the government of India and was rechristened as Air India in the post-independence era. What was once with a fleet with one single-engine aircraft grew to over hundred aircrafts in 2020. Air India was sold by the government back to Tata Group in October 2021 for nearly 2.4 billion U.S. dollars.
Airports and infrastructure
There were over 400 airports and airstrips in the country. However, only around 150 of these were operational. Until 2013, the Airport Authority of India was the sole player in the development of the airports. Economic liberalization in the private sector opened this up since. The government provided a 100 percent tax exemption for a period of ten years for airport projects. Also, under the automatic route, 100 percent and 79 percent FDI was allowed for greenfield and brownfield projects respectively. Further, several unserved and underserved airports across the country were identified and operationalized under the regional connectivity scheme.
With an aim to provide affordable air connectivity for the masses and boost growth of this sector, the Ministry of Civil Aviation launched the Regional Connectivity Scheme - Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (RCS-UDAN). This multi-billion rupee scheme provided monetary support for the development of infrastructure across tier-II and tier-III cities. This scheme not only covered airplanes, but also helicopters and seaplanes. Several routes were planned by keeping the tourism sector in focus. In October 2020, the first seaplane service was launched in the country. With airports and helipads, the country now had water aerodromes as well. SpiceJet bagged the contract for eight seaplane routes across the country.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Air transportation in India".