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Airports and seaports in India

Aviation in India, broadly divided into military and civil aviation, is the fastest-growing aviation market in the world according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The hub of the nation's aviation manufacturing industry is at Bangalore which has a 65% share of this economic sector since 1924.[1] The government's UDAN (regional connectivity scheme) is driving the growth of civil aviation and aviation infrastructure in India.


Main articles: History of Indian civil aviation and History of the Indian Air Force

Tata Sons' Airline timetable, c. 1935

The first commercial aviation flight in India took place on 18 February 1911. It was a brief demonstration flight of about 15 minutes from the United Provinces Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition in Allahabad, across the Yamuna River to Naini, a distance of 9.7 kilometres (6 mi). The aircraft, a Humber biplane shipped from England specifically for the event, was flown by French aviator Henri Pequet and carried 6,500 pieces of mail, making it the first official airmail service.[2][3] Regular air mail was not established until two decades later, notably by J. R. D. Tata, who was awarded a contract to carry mail in 1932 and founded an airline which grew to become Air India.[4]

Until 1990, international aviation was restricted to the four major metros of India, viz., New Delhi (Palam), Bombay (Santa Cruz), Madras (Meenambakkam), and Calcutta (Dum Dum). With the Thiruvananthapuram Airport having upgraded to an international airport on 1 January 1991, making it the fifth international airport of India, international aviation was expanded to minor metros and non-metros across the country.

Civil aviation

The busiest Indian airports (2015-16).

Main article: Civil aviation in India

India had the world's third-largest civil aviation market in 2017,[5][6] with the number of passengers growing at an average annual rate of 16.3% between 2000 and 2015.[7] It recorded an air traffic of 131 million passengers in 2016.[8] Despite this growth, much of the country's aviation potential remains untapped.[9][10] IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet and Vistara are the major carriers in order of their market share.[11] These airlines connect more than 80 cities across India, and are joined by several foreign airlines in providing international routes.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for civilian aviation, through regulatory oversight by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).[12] National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 sets broad goals for safety and operations.[13] The UDAN (regional connectivity scheme) is a plan to develop a sustainable air network in over 400 tier-2 cities across India, with an estimated expenditure of 500 million (US$6.3 million) per airstrip.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20]


Main articles: Busiest airports in India, List of Airports in India, and List of airlines of India

The primary civilian aviation hub is Indira Gandhi International Airport in the National Capital Region of Delhi.[21] Since 2009, it has been the busiest airport in India in terms of passenger traffic and international traffic, and the second-busiest in terms of cargo traffic (after Mumbai).[22] Since 2010, it has had the capacity to handle more than 40 million passengers per year, with a planned expansion for 100 million passengers by 2030.[23]

UDAN is assessing 486 existing airports for potential development.[24] Phase I of UDAN helped to raise the number of operational civil aviation airports to 131, a 34% increase over 20 months.[25] In addition, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) granted in-principal approval to 19 new airports in December 2017.[26] In September 2018, the Civil Aviation Minister said that as many as 100 new airports would be built in the next 10 to 15 years to meet the growing domestic demand.[27] As of March 2023, there were 148 operational airports in India.[28]

In 2015, there were 22 airlines operating in India, which add a total of about 50 airliners to their fleets each year.[26] To support these fleets, several aviation-industrial parks are being set up, such as in Hisar,[29][30][31] Gujarat,[32] and Chennai.

Military aviation

US Army Air Force personnel extracting an engine from a B-29 in India, c. 1945.

The President of India serves as the ex-officio commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces, with the Ministry of Defence responsible for policy. The air arms of the armed forces are the Indian Air Force (IAF), commanded by the Chief of Air Staff, and the Indian Naval Air Arm, Army Aviation Corps, and Indian Coast Guard aviation.

The IAF is the world's fourth-largest air force. In 2015, Flightglobal estimated that it had 1,820 aircraft in service: 905 combat planes, 595 fighters and 310 attackers.[33] The defence sector – consisting chiefly of IAF and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) – are developing numerous indigenous fighter aircraft and new technologies for the aviation industry. These efforts produced the HF-24 Marut and HAL Tejas supersonic fighters.[34]

See also


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  2. ^ Bluffield, Robert (19 November 2014). Over Empires and Oceans: Pioneers, Aviators and Adventurers. Tattered Flag. p. 60. ISBN 978-0957689268.
  3. ^ Eden, Paul E. (21 December 2015). The World's Greatest Civil Aircraft: An Illustrated History. Amber Books. ISBN 9781782742722.
  4. ^ [1] Beginning of Aviation in India - Bharat Rakshak Archived 27 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "In next 6-8 months, we expect to get bids for Air India: Jayant Sinha, Economic Times, 8 January 2018". The Economic Times. 9 January 2018. Archived from the original on 10 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  6. ^ "India becomes 3rd largest aviation market in domestic traffic - Times of India". The Times of India. 26 March 2017. Archived from the original on 22 March 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
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  8. ^ Aviation, Make in India, archived from the original on 1 November 2015, retrieved 8 November 2015
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  14. ^ "Air connectivity for tier-2 cities soon, says MoS Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma", India Today, 9 February 2016[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "GoI AAI's RCS UDAN document (final version), October 2016" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik : Civil Aviation Ministry's Regional Connectivity Scheme "UDAN" Launched Today". Press Information Bureau. Government of India. 21 October 2016. Archived from the original on 6 November 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  17. ^ Shukla, Tarun (6 March 2017). "Govt clears Rs 45 billion for 50 regional airports under Udan scheme". Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  18. ^ "UDAN: Govt links airlines' performance to award of more routes." Archived 16 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Economic Times, 14 November 2017.
  19. ^ "Udan scheme round-II: Government receives 141 proposals for air routes." Archived 16 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Zee Business, 14 November 2017.
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  21. ^ "eAIP India AD-2.1 VIDP". Archived from the original on 31 March 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
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  24. ^ Participating unserved UDAN-RCS airports Archived 1 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Airport Authority of India, Nov 2016.
  25. ^ State police to stand guard at Airports under UDAN scheme Archived 2 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Economic Times, 2 December 2015.
  26. ^ a b "In-principle approval for 19 greenfield airports given: Raju, Times of India, 20 December 2017". The Times of India. 21 December 2017. Archived from the original on 18 May 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  27. ^ PTI (4 September 2018). "India plans 100 new airports costing $60b". GulfNews. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  28. ^ "17 scheduled airlines operating in the country through 148 operational airports".
  29. ^ Vijay Mohan. Army’s helicopter repair hub likely to come up in Hisar Archived 2 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine, The Tribune, 1 August 2016.
  30. ^ Haryana to develop international airport at Hisar Archived 19 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, TravelBizMonitor Archived 29 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved in March 2016.
  31. ^ State shelves Hisar airport cargo project Archived 19 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, The Tribune, 29 May 2015.
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  34. ^ "Best BBA Aviation Colleges in Bangalore | Airport Management Colleges in Bangalore | Career, Scope, Job, Salary Details". 7 September 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2020.