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How Indian aviation soared when govt took a back seat

Jul 06, 2022

Domestic passenger traffic has grown ninefold and cargo volumes fivefold since the early 1990s, writes Atul Thakur

Until the late 1980s, civil aviation in India was completely under government control.Private air-taxis were allowed in 1986, followed by the Open Air Policy-1990 and the AirCorporations (Transfer of Undertaking and Repeal) Act of 1994, which opened civil aviationto the private sector. Aided by the growth of other industries in the post-liberalisation era,India’s civil aviation sector has soared since the 1990s

7,000 flights a day

Covid has hurt airlines across the world, but before it India was in a phase of rapidgrowth. The number of flights increased from under half a million in 1995 to 2.6 millionin 2019-20, which translates to about 7,000 daily flights

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Fastest domestic growth

In the pre-pandemic era, India’s domestic market was growing faster than those of China (another country with rapid economic growth) and America (world’s largest airline market)

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International traffic boom

India’s international air traffic grew to 27 million departures and 18 million arrivals in 2019, but with about 160 million yearly international arrivals and departures each, the US and China are far ahead

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Some catching up to do

India also lags both China and the US in terms of flight penetration. It has 250 passengers per thousand population to China’s 419 and America’s 2,394. While Americans fly a lot because of inadequate railways, the Chinese are flying more despite having the world’s largest network of high-speed railways

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