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India: Civil Aviation
Country Study > Chapter 6 > Character and Structure of the Economy > Transportation > Civil Aviation


Air transportation is under the purview of the Department of Civil Aviation, a part of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism. In 1995 the government owned two airlines and one helicopter service, and private companies owned six airlines.

The government-owned airlines dominated India's air transportation in the mid-1990s. Air India is the international carrier; it carried more than 2.2 million passengers in FY 1992. Indian Airlines is the major domestic carrier and also runs international flights to nearby countries. It carried 9.8 million passengers in FY 1989, when it had a load factor of more than 80 percent in its fifty-nine airplanes. Analysts, however, attributed this high load factor to a shortage of capacity rather than efficiency of operation. A major expansion was planned for the 1990s, but an airplane crash in 1990 and a pilots' strike in 1991 damaged the airline, which carried only 7.8 million passengers in FY 1992. Two other accidents in 1993, plus several hijackings, put constraints on the growth of both airlines.

A third government-owned airline, Vayudoot, was also a domestic carrier in the early 1990s. It provided feeder service between smaller cities and the larger places served by Air India and Indian Airlines. By 1994 Indian Airlines had taken over Vayudoot. Another publicly owned company, Pawan Hans, runs helicopter service, mostly to offshore locations and other areas that cannot be served by fixed-wing aircraft.

In 1995 India's six private airlines accounted for more than 10 percent of domestic air traffic. Both the number of carriers and their market share are expected to rise in the mid-1990s. The four major private airlines are East West Airlines, Jagsons Airlines, Continental Aviation, and Damania Airways.

In addition to the Indian-owned airlines, many foreign airlines provide international service. In 1995 forty-two airlines operated air services to, from, and through India.

In the mid-1990s, India had 288 usable airports. Of these, 208 had permanent-surface runways and two had runways of more than 3,659 meters, fifty-nine had runways of between 2,400 and 3,659 meters, and ninety-two had runways between 1,200 and 2,439 meters. There are major international airports at Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Madras, and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), under the management of the International Airport Authority of India. International service also operates from Marmagao, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. A consortium of Indian and British companies signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government of Maharashtra in June 1995 to build a new international airport for Bombay, across the harbor from the main city and to be linked by a cross-harbor roadway. Major regional airports are located at Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Pune, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Kochi, and Nagpur.

Last Updated: September 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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