Air transport is the fastest and highly convenient mode of transport, although it is more costly than other modes.
Air transport becomes very important in the regions where surface means of transport are difficult to develop.
These regions may have dense forests, marshy land, hilly terrain and high mountains.
India is favourably situated on a busy international air route, connecting North America, Europe and South-west Asia on the one hand and East and South-east Asia together with Australia on the other.
Civil aviation arrived in India in 1911 when an aircraft flew from Allahabad to Naini, covering a short distance of 10 km.
Significant development started only in 1953 when Indian Airlines and Air India were set up.
In the public sector, there are Air India Indian Airlines, Air India Charters Limited (Air India Express) and Alliance Air.
In the private sector, there are 7 scheduled airlines (passenger), namely, Jet Airways, Sahara Airlines, Deccan Aviation, Spice Jet, Go Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Paramount Airways and Indigo.
There is also one cargo private scheduled airline, i.e., Blue Dart Aviation.
At present, there are 46 companies holding non-scheduled air transport operators permit.
Air India is the international air carrier.
It handles the foreign traffic which includes both cargo and passenger services.
It provides Regular and more frequent flights to the USA, Canada and European countries.
Currently, there are 37 air crafts most of them Boeing 747 in the fleet of Air India.
In 2004-05, Air India carried about 4.4 million passengers.
There are eleven international airports which are located at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Channai, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Amritsar, Jaipur and Lucknow handle the entire foreign air traffic.
Indian Air Lines handles the domestic air transport.
There are regular flights among the state capitals and major cities of the country.
The places of tourist interest are also served by this airline.
Besides it, Indian Airlines operate 55 domestic and 18 international stations.
It provides services to neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Male and Middle East.
Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd., a public sector company, is engaged in providing helicopter services to ONGC for it’s off shore operations.
It’s also used by various State Governments.
Promotion of air transport in the North-eastern region is a necessity owing to several adverse physical factors like mountainuous terrain, thick forest cover, big rivers with frequent flood.
Socially and economically too, the region needs to be drawn closer to the rest of India.