100 Years Of Civil Aviation In India

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                <p>Indian Civil Aviation is completing 100 glorious years
on 18th February, 2011. The year 2011-12 will be declared as the Civil
Aviation Centenary Year, starting from the 18th February, 2011 and ending
on the same date in 2012. On this date in 1911, the first commercial
plane flew in India between Allahabad and Naini. Since then the aviation
in India has grown from strength to strength. Today India is the 9th
largest civil aviation market in t he world and this forward march is
likely to culminate in India becoming one of the three largest markets in
the world by 2020. Let us look back and review the glorious history of
the Indian Civil Aviation and also see what it has in store for the
future.</p>
<p>In 1929 JRD Tata got the first pilot license issued in India, and
became known as the Father of Indian Civil Aviation. He founded India's
first commercial airlines, Tata Airlines in 1932 which in 1946 became Air
India. After the Second World War as many as eleven private domestic
airlines operated in India. The supply-demand was not in balance as the
Indian aviation market was still in a fledgling state. Many of these
airlines were making heavy losses as a result of which the government
decided to nationalize the airlines by forming one domestic carrier and
one international carrier. In 1953 Air-India International became a
public sector corporation along with the Indian Airlines Corporation
(catering to domestic routes) enjoying a monopoly in the domestic
market.</p>
<p>Eight erstwhile private airlines were merged to form the Indian
airlines Corporation, namely Deccan Airways, Airways India, Bharat
Airways, Himalayan Aviation, Air India, Kalinga Airlines, Indian National
Airways and Air Services of India. The consequence of this liberalization
was that by March 1995, 35.65% of the market was being catered by private
carriers. The number of passengers carried by private air carriers had
increased from 15,000 in 1990 to 3.6 million in 1994. In the early
nineties, soon after deregulation, many of the new established airlines
went bust, including Gujarat Airways, East West, UBAir and VIF. Passenger
service had improved. Less than adequate airports and traffic control
infrastructure, which was the main obstacle to future growth, needed to
be improved and expanded for the industry to sustain long term growth.
Increasing fare rates appeared to have a negative impact on growth as
rock bottom fares were no longer sustainable to run a profitable airline.
Aviation fuel in India was much higher compared to comparable costs
elsewhere.</p>
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<p>In 2003, Captain Gopinath, pioneer of the concept of Low Cost Carriers
(LCCs) in India, started Air Deccan; which became the turning point of
the scene of Civil Aviation of India. This was soon followed by a number
of operators like Spicejet, IndiGo, Go Air, Kingfisher Airlines, Paramout
Airways and MDLR Airlines. Subsequently, the Indian Civil Aviation
Witnessed three major mergers: Jet Airways and Sahara (Jetlite), Air
India and Indian Airlines; and Kingfisher and Deccan (Kingfisher Red).
The rapid growth of aviation market, however, was arrested by the
economic recession and got revived only after the recession got over.</p>
<p>The Indian Civil Aviation industry has witnessed 20 to 30 per cent
growth rates during the last few years. Growth has now slowed down
considerably due to ever increasing cost of the ATF (especially in India
where ATF is heavily taxed). A slew in low-cost airlines now competes
with the more established operators. Aviation infrastructure has not kept
pace with the increased traffic and passenger volumes. India's main
airports are currently facing capacity constrains but are in the process
of being modernized and expanded with additional capacity. Privatization
of the two major airports at Mumbai and Delhi has been completed. Two new
greenfield airports have opened at Banglore and Hyderabad. Another major
change as a result of deregulation of commercial aviation sector in India
has been the option for private airlines to fly overseas after completing
five years of operations in the domestic market. Jet Airways and
Kingfisher Airlines already enjoy substantial international traffic.</p>
<p>Airbus, a leading aircraft maker in the world, predicted that India
will be the fastest growing country for air travel for the next ten years
with the domestic traffic increasing by an average of 12.2 percent per
year. Traffic growth will also be amongst the world's highest, averaging
7.3 percent over the next 20 years compared to the world average of 4.7
percent. By 2028, Indian passenger fleet will increase four-fold to 1,163
aircrafts. Airbus said that by 2028, 14 of the top 20 airports in the
world will be the Asia-Pacific region and they will include Mumbai and
Delhi. With 10 percent growth, domestic India will be the second biggest
growth market after domestic Turkey.</p>
<p>There is strength and resilience in India's commercial aviation sector
both in the near and long term. If we take a realistic and a broad look
at the Indian market, what resonates is that the future growth of air
travel is among the greatest in the world. Let us hope while all
operators are gearing up for increasing their fleet size (for example,
the world record order of 180 more A-320 aircraft by LCC IndiGo), the
infrastructure and manpower keeps pace with the expected growth. If it
does, the benefits will surely accrue to the air traveler, around whom
the whole business is built.</p>                 <!--INFOLINKS_OFF-->
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