The first commercial flight in India was made on February 18, 1911, when a French pilot Monseigneur Piguet flew airmails from Allahabad to Naini, covering a distance of about 10 km in as many minutes.
Tata Services became Tata Airlines and then Air-India and spread its wings as Air-India International. The domestic aviation scene, however, was chaotic. When the American Tenth Air Force in India disposed of its planes at throwaway prices, 11 domestic airlines sprang up, scrambling for traffic that could sustain only two or three. In 1953, the government nationalized the airlines, merged them, and created Indian Airlines. For the next 25 years JRD Tata remained the chairman of Air-India and a director on the board of Indian Airlines. After JRD left, voracious unions mushroomed, spawned on the pork barrel jobs created by politicians. In 1999, A-I had 700 employees per plane; today it has 474 whereas other airlines have 350.
For many years in India air travel was perceived to be an elitist activity. This view arose from the “Maharajah” syndrome where, due to the prohibitive cost of air travel, the only people who could afford it were the rich and powerful.
In recent years, however, this image of Civil Aviation has undergone a change and aviation is now viewed in a different light – as an essential link not only for international travel and trade but also for providing connectivity to different parts of the country. Aviation is, by its very nature, a critical part of the infrastructure of the country and has important ramifications for the development of tourism and trade, the opening up of inaccessible areas of the country and for providing stimulus to business activity and economic growth.
Until less than a decade ago, all aspects of aviation were firmly controlled by the Government. In the early fifties, all airlines operating in the country were merged into either Indian Airlines or Air India and, by virtue of the Air Corporations Act, 1953; this.